Trouble with transformer blamed for repeat of power outage

Hank Hayes • Feb 3, 2014 at 11:37 PM

KINGSPORT — The same group of Appalachian Power customers who lost electricity from Thursday night to midday Friday lost power again Sunday night.

About 2,000 power customers in Sullivan, Washington and Hawkins counties were again impacted by the Super Bowl night outage, Appalachian Power spokeswoman Teresa Hall confirmed.

“Last night, we experienced a mechanical issue with the mobile transformer at our Sullivan Gardens station — this was around 8 p.m.,” Hall explained in an email. “We corrected the problem and all power was restored to customers by 11:30 p.m.”

Hall had also attributed Thursday night’s outage to a transformer malfunction at a Sullivan Gardens substation.

Last week, Appalachian Power issued a news release warning Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee customers to prepare for possible power outages and plan for the possibility of higher electric bills because of recent frigid temperatures.

Weather records show January 2014 will go down as the coldest January of this century, with usage peaking on Jan. 7, the company pointed out.

“If the outside temperature is 50 degrees, heating systems might only need to run a few minutes each hour to maintain the inside temperature, but when the temperature drops to near zero and below, the system runs more often and longer to maintain temperature,” said Alan Bragg, Appalachian Power customer services manager. “If it is a heat pump, less efficient supplemental electric resistance heat automatically comes on when the outdoor temperature is below 30 degrees.”

Appalachian Power encourages customers to examine their next bill and compare last year’s usage to this year. If the kilowatt-hour usage is more than 25 to 30 percent higher than last year, or if they have any questions, the next step should be to contact Appalachian Power’s 24-hour Customer Operations Center at 1-800-956-4237 in Virginia and 1-800-967-4237 in Tennessee. A company representative can review the account and help arrange a personalized payment plan.

The company also said customers preferring to budget for electric bills should consider the Average Monthly Payment (AMP) plan. AMP bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change slightly each month.

Appalachian Power also said air leaks, lack of insulation and lack of heating system maintenance are the three major areas in a home that contribute to wasted electricity.

Appalachian Power serves more than a million customers over 62 counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.

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