Cold temps strain city utility system

From Staff Reports

The Daily Advance

0 Comments | Leave a Comment

It’s even more important to be “energy-smart” during cold weather, Elizabeth City Energy Officer Dennis Gordon says.

This week’s severe cold weather, plus the “polar vortex”-induced chill earlier this month, are placing strain on customers’ utility bills and the city’s electrical system alike. The city saw record demand for energy on Jan. 7, and, according to city officials, it briefly shot far past the energy levels its one transformer can tolerate. Mayor Joe Peel commented Monday that, if not for the weather cooling the transformer, it likely would have blown out, triggering another blackout.

As cold weather continues this week, Gordon and City Manager Rich Olson remind residents to remember a few basic tips to stay warm while not eating up more energy than they need or want to pay for.

• Space heaters are not necessarily a cheaper or better way to stay warm, Gordon said. Despite what their advertisements say, Gordon said they tend to not be much more energy-efficient than home heating systems. They are also dangerous to leave untended, he said.

• The majority of a resident’s energy demands typically go to three things: heating and air conditioning, their hot water heaters and their refrigerators, Olson said. Make sure each is in good working order and not set to extreme temperatures. Also remember to turn down the thermostat when no one’s home. Gordon also noted it’s generally significantly harder, and more expensive, to keep a home heated above 70 degrees.

• Small savings can also be squeezed out of remembering to unplug any electrical device, even an unused cell phone charge, when not in use. For devices plugged into a surge strip, flipping the red “power” button on the strip also does the trick, Gordon said.

In addition to encouraging residents to conserve energy, the city continues expanding electrical infrastructure to accommodate demand. Olson said Wednesday the city hopes to have its new electrical delivery point, something that could eventually double the city’s electrical load, up and running by early March.