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PSC urges caution if storms bring power outages
By Andrew Melnykovych
News for the Kentucky Public Service Commission
With the strongest storm system of the spring expected to hit Kentucky tonight, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) is urging residents to exercise caution in the event their electric service is interrupted.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting that a very strong line of thunderstorms will move into Kentucky today and tonight. The storms will bring high winds, heavy rain and the possibility of isolated tornadoes, especially west of Interstate 65, the NWS says.
With the ground already saturated, the high winds and additional rain could bring trees down on power lines and cause utility poles to break or topple. Falling limbs are also likely to cause outages. Power outages are likely in areas affected by the storms, the PSC said.
The PSC is reminding Kentucky residents to stay away from all downed lines. Downed lines should be reported to the local utility company. If the lines are sparking, on fire or otherwise creating an emergency, call 911.
Customers who lose power should follow proper safety precautions if they use portable generators, PSC Chairman David Armstrong said.
"As we have learned from previous storms, improper use of portable generators can be extremely dangerous," Armstrong said. "Many Kentuckians have lost their lives, and many others have been hospitalized, as the result of being poisoned by carbon monoxide emitted by portable generators that were not used correctly." To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
Customers who lose power should contact their utility company immediately. Most utilities in Kentucky have systems that use customer reports to help identify the location of the problem and determine what repairs are needed.
"It is important that every customer call to report an outage," Armstrong said. "But repeated calls simply tie up the utility's phone system. Call at once, but call only once."
Customers who lose power also should check electric connections and meters for damage. Damaged connections or meters must be repaired before power can be restored to a home or business.
Falling or sagging power lines may have damaged the connections between the utility company's overhead line and a customer's electric system. The connections are usually in the form of a masthead - a conduit connected to the service line - or, in older homes, an eyebolt which holds the line in place and an insulated line leading to the meter. In some cases, the meter or meter base may also be damaged.
Once power is restored, damaged connections or meters could pose an electrical or fire hazard if not repaired or if repaired improperly.
"It is critical that damaged connections be repaired by a qualified professional and inspected before power is restored," PSC Chairman Armstrong said. "In past outages, fires and severe damage have been caused by damaged or improperly repaired service connections."
Repairing a service connection or meter base is the responsibility of the individual customer. The meter base is the square or rectangular box on which the meter itself is mounted. It belongs to the property owner. The meter itself - the circular, glass-enclosed portion that attaches to the meter base - is the property of the utility company.
Customers with damaged connections or meters should take the following steps:
"We certainly hope that Kentucky will get through these storms without any serious disruptions in utility service," Armstrong said. "But if disruptions occur, we want those affected to stay safe while they wait for power to be restored."
The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky and has approximately 100 employees.
This story was posted on 2011-05-25 15:25:26
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