The Wind Blows, Power Goes Out in WV

Here’s the account from the Charleston Gazette of how 20-30 mile per hour gusts were “knocking out power to thousands of West Virginians” on Monday.

The WV PSC will probably give both AEP and FirstEnergy significant rate increases in their current base rate cases for right of way maintenance.  Monday’s local blackouts indicate, however, that WV’s aging electrical distribution system is still very brittle.

Keep in mind that this was just wind, on a relatively warm day.  There was no rain or snow, and still there were thousands of customers without power.

Too bad WV government “leaders” aren’t taking a tip from New York on building real reliable electrical systems:

Under an innovative program to create at least 10 “microgrids” (independent community-based electric distributions systems) statewide, the State will launch NY Prize, a $40 million competition, to help build community-scale power grids for areas with approximately 40,000 residents. Microgrids can operate in tandem with existing power supply during normal conditions, but will disconnect and operate as an independent power system to keep the lights on during an emergency.

2 thoughts on “The Wind Blows, Power Goes Out in WV

  1. My concern about giving these guys more money for maintenance is that they have obviously not adequately used the funds they have already received, as evidenced by the outages caused by mild conditions. Does anyone review their past expenditures or do they just receive money and then spend it however they want? Accountability is key to trust.

    • Donald, here are a couple of links to some old posts that might help. The first is testimony back in 2010 by PSC chief engineer Jim Ellars about the fact that Allegheny Energy, since merged into FirstEnergy, was in fact allowed to collect money in advance during the 2000s for right of way clearing. And they did not do the work until the major blackout in Dec. 2009. Then they used it for emergency repairs and not maintenance. Mr. Ellars also pointed out that the WV PSC had no standards in 2009 for determining whether WV power company reliability met any of the basic standards used in other states.

      The second post has a link to the PSC’s final order in their general investigation of the power companies’ response to the 2012 derecho blackout. In that order, the PSC required power companies to do point to point maintenance on their entire systems in a 5 year cycle. In the order, the PSC also said that they would allow power companies to recover all costs of this increased maintenance from rate payers.

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