By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Electric service should be restored by midnight tonight for the majority of the region according to officials with Appalachian Power.
According to APCO, 90 percent should be restored in Mercer, McDowell and Buchanan counties by midnight tonight while the majority of power was restored to Tazewell County Thursday. APCO said restoration times could change depending on further assessment and ongoing inclement weather.
Phil Moye, a spokesperson with APCO, said crews have been working steadily to ensure power is restored.
“It has been a very productive day, but obviously there is still a lot of work to do,” Moye said. “We have made some very good progress and expect to do the same today. We are hoping to have power back on tonight, except for a few isolated cases where there has been heavy damage or it is difficult to access the area. We are hoping to everyone restored by tonight if possible. A lot of people are already seeing their power restored.”
Moye said crews have had to resort to using ATVs or going on foot to assess damage to some transmission lines due to weather conditions.s
“It isn’t our preference to use ATV and foot patrol, but we have had to resort to that because aerial patrol has not been an option in some areas,” he said. “The weather has limited our aerial patrols. In some areas we can get helicopters up, but we have had to get out the ATVs and foot patrol out in many other areas. We have to patrol for the transmission lines. A lot of people think only of the lines along their street, but we also have to check the transmission lines that span ridges, gorges and mountains to transmit the power.”
Moye said he understands the frustration of those customers still without power, many of whom also lost their power during storms earlier in the summer.
“It is frustrating to be out of power for an extended period of times, especially for people who lost power in the summer and lost it again during this storm,” Moye said.
“Both of these storms have been extremely unusual for us. To have such a heavy snow associated with such strong winds at a time when we still have leaves on the trees is unusual. We would expect snows like this in January or February, not during this period of time. This isn’t a sight you see all that often. We have seen very out of the ordinary storms twice this year. We appreciate people’s patience as we deal with these unusual weather events.”
Especially during cold conditions, Moye said residents are asked to unplug major appliances before electric service is restored to prevent lines from overpowering.
“Wednesday in Raleigh County we had to restore power piece-by-piece, because with the cold weather if you try to bring it on all at once it will overpower the line and make it go back out,” Moye said.
“It helps tremendously in cold weather if people turn off all their large electric appliances like electric heaters until the power is back on for five or ten minutes. That allows the power on the line to feed all of these customers to absorb the electricity flowing through it and not overload to the point the electricity goes back off. We also ask people to stay away from downed lines and use their generators as per the instructions or have a qualified electrician set up the generator so it doesn’t backfeed on to our system.”
Moye said residents are also encouraged to report their outages if they see the majority of power has been restored to their area, even if they have reported their outage before.
“At this point in the restoration effort, we always encourage people to call in and report their outage even if they have reported it before,” he said.
“We would also encourage anyone who is still without power and sees that their neighbors have had power restored to report their outage again. Often times, this is a sign that this customer has a problem on a line that serves only their home or a just a few neighbors. Sometimes we clean up a larger outage, believe we have all the customers back on and find out that there are one or two people with power still out.”
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org�