This heat wave has put a major strain on just about everything, including the city of Tulsa's power supply. Some of AEP-PSO's largest customers played a major role in helping to avoid rolling blackouts Monday, but the company is still stressing energy conservation.
News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says it is easy to see how this energy emergency is affecting you and me. Every time we pay our electric bills or fill up our gas tanks, but it may also affect us in other ways, down the road.
When temperatures passed the century mark and Tulsa's major power provider faced going into its peak time with faulty equipment, the biggest customers were asked to scale-back. "Reducing the amount of pumps we have online, and increasing our thermostats to try to reduce the amount of energy. We tried to help wherever we can. I think a lot of people did that across the city and it really helped 'em out."
Mike Buchert says the public works department is the City of Tulsa's largest energy consumer, more than $4-million a year for power. The city's water treatment pumps are the largest single source of that expense. "We have major pumps that are pumping water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using electric, and the bill adds up to more than $2-million a year, just to supply water."
Buchert says the city of Tulsa already takes several energy-saving steps, like phasing-out older vehicles with more efficient models, buying more fuel-efficient gasoline, even installing led traffic lights. "Our energy consumption has actually gone down quite a bit. How much we pay for energy has gone up."
One area where the city can't cut anymore is gasoline. They expect the city fleet to grow by 4.5 percent and while they try to budget for price increases, there's no way anyone could have predicted this much of an increase. "We assumed about a 25 percent increase in our budget projections. Presently it's gone up about 50 percent. It looks like it may go up more over the next few weeks or next couple months."
And Buchert says there's nowhere else to cut. "We've gotta keep police force, fire department, street maintenance working, and so there's really no way of our significantly reducing our consumption in terms of gasoline."