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East Texas electricity customers asked to curb usage

By Mike Elswick
Aug. 4, 2011 at 10 p.m.

East Texas electric customers on Thursday joined thousands of others across the state and nation being asked to curtail their power use - especially during peak consumption periods of 1-7 p.m.

AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co. and Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative issued pleas to customers to voluntarily avoid using unnecessary lighting and appliances and to limit air conditioning use.

The requests were made because extremely high temperatures throughout the region were putting pressure on generating capacity, according to Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. She said she did not expect outages because of the high usage.

"At this point, we anticipate being able to meet the demand," McCellon-Allen said. "However, the availability of power from our generating units or from other utilities, as well as other electric system conditions, could change in these extreme weather conditions, so we are asking for our customers' cooperation."

Upshur Rural Electric officials said the cooperative is ready to implement its emergency load reduction program should demand exceed the available supply of electricity. Rolling temporary brownouts could temporarily be used and cause interruptions of service to avoid major blackouts - or major outages.

SWEPCO has broken all-time records for power consumption each day this week as temperatures hovered near 110 degrees, according to Scott McCloud, company spokesman.

On Wednesday, SWEPCO supplied 5,375 megawatts of electricity. A megawatt is 1 million watts, or enough to normally supply between 250 and 500 homes.

Wednesday's record broke Tuesday's record of 5,300 megawatts, which had eclipsed the record set Monday of 5,261 megawatts.

In an effort to help prevent unexpected breaks in power service, SWEPCO is reducing power to some industrial customers whose agreements allow curtailments under certain conditions.

The company serves 520,400 customers in three states, including 225,700 in Louisiana, 181,000 in Texas and 113,700 in Arkansas.



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