New Castle News

January 28, 2014

Electric grid may be stressed today

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — No power outages were reported because of winds over Sunday night, but local electrical concerns linger.

Chuck Jackson, area manager of Penn Power, said there are worries about electric overload Tuesday and Wednesday when demand increases as electric furnaces and heating devices struggle to keep homes warm in subzero windchills. He said that peak demand is usually around suppertime.

Temperatures were expected to drop below zero Monday night, with no more than single digits Tuesday.

The cold temperatures have led to various closings, including New Castle’s city hall and schools. Other schools in the county announced closures as well.

The electric company is taking measures to make sure the system is strong enough to handle the demand. He said this is done through curtailment agreements with large industrial customers that allow their usage to be cut during high demand times. He said this process is going on throughout the Northeast.

Jackson said additional concerns Tuesday and Wednesday are outages that could result from downed lines because of cold and wind. If an outage occurs, customers should call (888) LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com via smartphone.

Customers should immediately report downed wires to their utility or local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.

Updated information on current outages, FirstEnergy’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, are available at the 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.

FirstEnergy also is advising its customers to deal with the anticipated low temperatures in the following ways:

•Make sure your home is properly insulated to preserve heat. Inspect doors and windows and apply caulk or weather-stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. Close drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat and keep cold air out.

•Keep extra blankets or sleeping bags for each person in your home. Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.

•Use a sturdy fireplace screen on a fireplace or wood burning stove.

•Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as it could lead to a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas.

•Exercise caution with space heaters. Only use heaters designed for indoor use and keep all heat sources at least three feet away from curtains, carpet or furniture that could catch on fire.

•Maintain a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food. Convenience foods that do not require cooking are good to have on hand.

•Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip, or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.

•Use care when burning candles, especially around children or pets.

•Charge electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets.

•Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.