CHARLESTON, W.Va., February 4, 2010 – Appalachian Power is encouraging its customers to be prepared for a power outage if wet heavy snow blankets the area this weekend as is predicted.
“Wet heavy snow is one of the most damaging weather events for our electric system, because its weight brings down trees and power lines, and covered or closed roads slow our ability to get to the damaged poles, transformers and wires,” said Phil Wright, Appalachian Power vice president – distribution. “In addition, low temperatures are expected for the next several days, so the snow could be a problem for days to come.”
So what should customers do if they experience an outage?
First, let Appalachian Power know. Customers should call Appalachian Power’s toll-free number (Tennessee – 1-800-967-4237, Virginia – 1-800-956-4237, West Virginia – 1-800-982-4237). During times of high call volume callers may hear a recorded message. Even if a customer does not speak with a Customer Solutions Center representative, he or she can leave an electronic or recorded voice message about the outage.
Customers who use a battery-powered laptop computer can report an outage at www.AppalachianPower.com. “The first question the on-line outage site asks is whether a downed wire or other safety hazard exists,” said Wright. “Appalachian is concerned that customers take appropriate precautions around electrical equipment at all times, especially during service interruptions.”
If there are widespread power outages, Appalachian posts information about restoration efforts on www.AppalachianPower.com. An on-line outage map is updated every three minutes.
The following are a few tips for coping with outages:
* Never touch a downed wire. Always treat this situation as dangerous.
* Report this condition by phone or online as soon as possible.
* Prepare an emergency kit with flashlights, a battery-powered lamp and fresh batteries; battery-powered radio or television; water for drinking and cooking; instructions for manually opening power-operated garage doors; manual can opener.
* Do not open freezer doors. This will keep foods frozen longer. Minimize opening refrigerator doors as well.
* Disconnect (trip the breaker in your electrical panel) major heating and cooling equipment circuits.
* Leave just one or two lights switched “on” to let you know when power is restored. Once power is restored, turn on appliances gradually. Electric utilities can have problems with what is called “cold load pick-up” following outages as customer demand surges when service is restored.
* If the temperatures dip below freezing and the power outage is projected to last overnight or longer, consider moving to a shelter or in with friends or relatives who do have electricity.
* If you leave your house, protect your water pipes from freezing by turning the water off at the main shutoff valve and opening faucets to drain the water.
More information can be found on www.AppalachianPower.com in the section titled Outages & Problems.
Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.
Corporate Communications Manager– VA/TN
Corporate Communications Manager – WV