Update: 10:45 AM, 6/30/2012
GAHANNA, Ohio –
Approximately 633,000 customer throughout the AEP Ohio service territory are without power with more than 345,000 located in Central Ohio. Franklin County was the hardest hit showing more than 200,000 customers affected.
This storm is a catastrophic event, affecting not only Ohio but much of eastern U.S. and reports indicate this storm is a larger event than Hurricane Ike that hit in Sept. 2008, which affected approximately 650,000 of AEP Ohio’s 1.5 million customers. Winds speeds for this storm have been reported in the 80 to 85 mph range whereas, during Ike, wind speeds were recorded in the 75 mph range. Restoration for the majority of the customers affected by Hurricane Ike was completed in about a week.
This storm has left millions of people without power across the affected areas, including 1.4 million across AEP’s eastern service territory.
Meteorologists are forecasting the possibility of additional severe weather with high wind potentials (in the 50-to 60 mph range for Saturday) through Tuesday and expect temperatures to remain in the mid-90s throughout this period and through the end of next week. Following Ike, the weather was calm and sunny for the entire 9-day restoration period which expedited restoration.
At this time, there are more than 4,700 reports of wires down and other hazards across the AEP Ohio service territory. This number is expected to increase as assessment proceeds.
Restoration efforts are ongoing and still in the early stages of damage assessment. At this point, it is anticipated restoration will continue for at least 5-7 days, with the majority of customers to be restored in that time frame. This estimate could change if additional damaging weather crosses the area.
Restoration times will be provided and updated on an ongoing basis as assessment is completed. It is expected to have the initial restoration estimates late this afternoon.
The key drivers for restoration times in any storm recovery include the extent of storm damage consisting of the number of transmission and distribution circuits down and damage to poles and wires, number of resources available to work on restoration and weather conditions during the restoration period. The preliminary assessment shows there are over 230 distribution circuits out (a distribution circuit will carry anywhere from several hundred to several thousand customers). Also, there are approximately 60 transmission lines down that serve the distribution system. Again, additional damage to the transmission system could be found as assessment continues throughout today. Assessment of the transmission system will be conducted by air as weather permits today and expect to have helicopters in the air in western as well as central Ohio.
Currenlty, there are approximately 900 AEP Ohio line resources working on restoration this morning, with an additional 900 outside resources requested. AEP Ohio has also requested additional tree (FTEs) and various support personnel.
Crews are working in all affected areas. Because of safety concerns and the well-being of the crews, they will work 16 hour days (until approx midnight), with skeleton crews working overnight to respond to emergencies.
What is AEP Ohio’s restoration process? AEP Ohio works to restore power using the swiftest and most humane schedule possible. As a result, efforts are staged so that power will initially be restored to hospitals, emergency response agencies, essential AEP Ohio facilities, other public utilities and public shelters. Residential customers are given priority over business and industrial customers and efforts are first targeted toward larger population centers. Then, once these larger areas are mostly restored, most work crews move on to other large affected areas, while some personnel remain behind to complete the critical parts of the restoration.
Never touch a downed utility wire, no matter how harmless it looks. It can be difficult to distinguish between a power line and a cable or telephone line. All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous. And don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity. Keep children and pets away from this potential hazard. Call AEP Ohio to report any downed lines or equipment.
If you use a portable or RV generator, do not plug the generator into your circuit box. Portable generators “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, and plug essential appliances directly into the generator. See additional information about use of backup generators.
Please check on your affected family members and neighbors, especially the elderly, to make sure they remain safe. AEP Ohio is compiling shelter information for the affected areas, and will provide those locations on our website later today as well. AEP Ohio deeply appreciates our customers patience and understanding as we assess the damages caused by this event. We will provide updates with the latest information we have on an ongoing basis. The weather forecast for the next few days is for very hot, humid conditions.
AEP Ohio asks customers affected by the power outage, including those who must leave their homes, to turn off all lights and appliances – including heating or air conditioning systems – to prevent circuit overload situations as power is restored to their homes. Customers should be extra cautious in making sure nothing is left cooking on kitchen ranges. One light can be left on, so customers will know when power is restored.