Is Our Power Grid Ready For Heat Wave?

Friday, June 26th 2009, 3:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

COWETA, OK -- Imagine what it would be like during this heat wave without power.  There have been some scattered power problems across the area, but fortunately they haven't lasted long.  Is our electric system able to handle the early summer heat wave?

At Don Coates house in Coweta, the cooling system seems like it's running non-stop.  So, he definitely noticed when it suddenly cut off in the middle of our heat wave.

"Well, it warmed up in the house pretty quick," said Don Coates of Coweta.

Turns out he lost power for about an hour because utility crews were doing repairs in the neighborhood.

"If it would have lasted all night, into the next day, we would have went somewhere else, cooling off for the day, so," said Don Coates.

Joyce Bowers lives across the street from Coates' house.  Bowers says it's so hot she doesn't enjoy working in the yard as much and she can't imagine losing air conditioning for very long.

"I'd probably have to open the freezer and refrigerator," said Joyce Bowers of Coweta.

PSO says it has experienced isolated problems with the electric system since the heat wave started.

"It's been a few outages from customers using so much energy it will overload a fuse and it will blow a fuse," said PSO's Ed Bettinger.

Bettinger says most repairs can be made in about an hour, but some have taken longer.  The problem is the increased demand can take a toll on the electric system.

"Just energy being drawn through the system can cause problems especially if you have a piece of equipment that is old and suffering from some metal fatigue," said PSO's Ed Bettinger.

Conserving energy helps matters, but with the temperatures so hot, and not much relief in sight, that may be easier said than done.

"It's too hot.  I lived in Arizona for five years, and it was 110, 115, but it wasn't this hot," said Joyce Bowers of Coweta.

As you can imagine, we're all using a lot of electricity right now.  Thursday for example, PSO had 3,960 megawatts of usage.  That's not far from the 4,200 megawatt record for peak demand set last August.