Power outages can happen anywhere - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Power outages can happen anywhere

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August 15, 2003
by Kathryn Simmons and Karen Collier

Albany-- Power is slowly being restored in the Northeast. But could Georgia go through the same thing?

There are four nuclear plants and two coal generated plants in Georgia. As we learned fromThursday night's events, the entire United States works on a power grid, which means if Georgia has a major power outage then it's possible surrounding states would too.

"Keep in mind this wasn't supposed to happen, it will take them a little while to figure out what went wrong and it would be important to all the other grids that that didn't occur," said Lori Farkas of Albany Water, Gas, & Light. "I hope we all handle anything that happens. In Albany we sure are used to power going out because the summer storms we've had."

Lori Farkas says 48 cities in Georgia, including Albany, buy power from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. They have a 50-year contract that expires in 2025.

The blackout in the Northeast has many South Georgian's wondering if our area is prepared for a similar situation.

When the power goes out, you have no lights, no air conditioning, no life saving equipment running in the hospitals. But, 9 seconds later, generators kick on, and auxilliary power is back up. "Not only could we supply our loads, but we could actually give back about 30 percent to water, gas and light to use it in other areas if they so had to," said Phoebe Putnety Plant Operations Dir. David Paul.

All hospitals are required to have back up generators to provide power for critical areas of the hospital. At Phoebe, the generators can run up to 100 hours without being refueled. And even if one of the eight generators fails, others will take over the load.

When the power is out, the first priority of emergency services, is to let the public know through the media. WALB-TV has a large diesel backup generator that will power the entire Stuart Avenue complex, so people with battery-powered TV's can find out what's happening.

We're in constant contact with public service personnel so as soon as power is back up in your home, we can let you know what's going on.

The mall is even prepared for an outage. If the power were to go out while people were inside, batteries would power up exit lights so customers could leave safely.

The police and fire departments also have back-up generators in case of emergencies. The generators can open garage doors, run the dispatch radio, and even pump fuel so crews can still get to emergencies. "All of your emergency services should be totally functional, even in the absence of power," said Albany Fire Chief J. W. Arrowood.

And that's reassuring in a time, when everything around you is black.

Emergency generators at police and fire department can run for several days without needing to refuel.

posted at 4:30 PM by dave.miller@walb.com