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Staying warm comes at a price

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

As temperatures are expected  to drop during the next few days, energy use and costs are on the rise.

"We do expect extra usage," Paducah Power System spokesperson Andrea Underwood said Wednesday. "The demand has been high the last couple of months, and we expect that to continue."

Underwood said PPS has plenty of power capacity and is not concerned about going over capacity. Instead, she said, the company is concerned for customers who may see an increase in their respective bills.

"Some people are using twice as much energy now than they were in November, and that is a hardship for people who were struggling with their bill then," Underwood said.

In a news release, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced steps it's taking to maintain the security and stability of its power system, including issuing an internal "Conservative Operation Alert" at its generation and transmission facilities. TVA provides electricity to businesses and local power distributors in parts of seven states in the Southeast, including counties in western Kentucky and south-central Kentucky

The alert, issued Monday, delays nonemergency maintenance activities at those facilities to minimize risks to the power supply, according to the news release, which also stated that TVA is working with the 155 local power companies in its region and the industrial customers it serves directly to "ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity" to residents it serves.

TVA also began a "Power Supply Alert," which notes the possibility that an unexpected shutdown of a large generating unit or transmission system interchange could occur, potentially caused by high demand, that could decrease TVA's power supply reserves.

TVA urged consumers to take steps to lessen their electricity use and lower their power bills, suggesting people turn down the thermostats in their homes. The release claims lowering the temperature by one degree can save as much as 3 percent on a monthly bill.

Underwood said lowering the heat in a home can help conserve energy, but that doing that can be difficult during cold weather.

"It's kind of a catch 22 for them (customers)," Underwood said.

Underwood said if PPS customers find themselves behind on their power bills, it is important to contact the company immediately.

"We just want to know about it as soon as possible, so we can figure out some sort of payment option for them," she explained.

Underwood said, in addition to cold weather, other activities that can add up to higher power bills in the winter include holiday celebrations, increased hot water use and space heater use.

She said a bill may also seem higher if there were more days in that billing cycle than usual. She suggested customers look at the number of kilowatt hours listed on their bills and compare the number with kilowatt hours listed on bills for previous months.

She said if PPS customers have questions about their bills, they can call the company for assistance determining how much energy they're using and comparing the amount to what they used during warmer months.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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