Will there be enough AC to run the AC? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will there be enough AC to run the AC?

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August 10, 2007

Albany -- A week of triple digit temperatures, has meant four consecutive days of record high power usage for Georgia Power and now it's beginning to strain their system.

Friday the extra load caused transformer failures in several areas across the state. Nearly 5,000 customers outside Atlanta lost power for a while. The strain on the power grid will continue until we get a break from the extreme heat.

In south Georgia it's been better than elsewhere around the state, but if these triple digit temperatures continue it's only a matter of time before we start to see transformer or fuse

A plus for Albany and south Georgia is that Georgia Power's systems here are often stressed, whether it's from storms, or these higher temperatures we've seen this week. So far, Georgia Power in Albany this week has only had nine reported outages, mostly from some storms that went through.

They say customers can help by not putting extra strains on the system, simply by keeping air conditioners around 78 degrees.

"The biggest user in the house is the air conditions of course, and the optimum setting is 78 degrees," said Jay Smith  Ga. Power's Albany Coordinator. "Of course and for every degree that the thermostat is set below 78, the air conditioner will use an additional three to five percent more power, so lowering it down can really boost up the usage that you're doing. 

They say an average air conditioner can only cool your home 20 degrees below the outside temperature, so there's no need to have a unit set below 78. The problems they say is these stations aren't getting any breaks.

"We don't have the nighttime cooling so you wake up in the morning and the AC is running either all through the night or all along," says Plant Mitchell Manager Ronnie Walston.

Because we're not cooling off much overnight, everyone's air conditioner is running non-stop and that's what's creating the extra load in the system that just can't seem to get a break in this heat. 

"Statewide the company information says that we have had to replace 316 transformers, which is quite a few," Smith said. "As people have added bigger air conditioners onto their houses, added computers, and just added load, then the load on those transformers put there initially has gone up, and over time transformers may not be adequate to handle the new load that's in place now."

"We feel like we've got a good system and we feel like its going to be able to handle the loads that are there," said Smith.

Georgia Power put additional crews on night shift and on-call to help handle some of the transformer disruptions they've been having. Those have typically occurred around metro-Atlanta.

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