Over 1.6 million without power on Christmas Eve

I lost power around 5am yesterday (12.24.22). Power was finally restored about 3:30pm. I got up at 3am and had power. I went back to bed about 4am with the tV on and was awakened about 5:30am because of the silence and was greeted with a very dark house. I found the flash light beside the bed and began to check out the situation.

NO Power.

I have central heat gas heating system and also use 2 small oil space heaters. My first thought was the space heaters had knocked off the power.

I got dressed in the dark and walked outside into the cold. I have 2 wifi thermometers that capture indoor and outdoor temps. One is in the basement and one hangs outside under the roof overhang. I’ve had one for several years and bought a new one just before the cold weather set in so I could monitor the temp in the basement so if need be, I could cut the water at the water main if it got too cold. The temp in the basement was 40 degrees and outside a balmy 7 degrees.

I walked onto the small deck and down to the yard and out to the street.

READ MORE

The porch lights on the house across the street that are always on were off. Lights up and down the street including street lights were off. Street lights on the intersecting street across from my house were on, as well as outside lighting. I could see down the street about 15 houses or so and no lights, up the street, no lights.

Apparently a power failure of some kind. It was cold and I didn’t stay outside long. I walked back inside my dark house. I keep the house at 70 degrees so coming in from 7 degree cold, the house felt nice and warm… but for how long with now no heat. I hoped for the best, that the power would return quickly. Fortunately my Iphone had a 50 percent charge and I could use to get the time. When I got back inside the house it was after 6am, so I had a long wait until I could call. Sunrise was about 7:45am… so I sat inside the house in the dark, the house being still warm.

I’m retired and use a computer for access to the internet, not my iphone. I have EPB internet but because of o no power, I can’t use the computer. I check my iphone to see if I have any notifications. I have NONE. I check text messages and I have no email on my iphone. I try to get to the EPB web site using the browser on my iphone. Once I lose my internet connection, my iphone automatically switches to a cellular data connection. It is a laborious process to navigate on my phone and fortunately when I do access the web site, I can log in using my phone number on file. The only notification I receive is the message about the rolling TVA mandated 15 minute blackouts… so I wait and in 15 minutes, no power, in 30 minutes no power… shortly after sun-up, I get better dressed and my Aussie PI and I go for a walk, the temp according to my new wifi thermometer the temp is now 6 degrees.

READ MORE

We walk to the end of the street and I can see lights on the ridge that runs parallel with the street across from my house and also on the ridge behind my house. We walk the 3 or 4 blocks to the stop sign at the end of the street and the street that the street I live on intersects with had lights for as far as I can see left or right and the street across from the stop sign that runs up a steep hill also had lights… apparently the only power outage is on the street I live on. We walk back to the house which is still warm compared to the arctic temps outside.

Around 8:30am, I call EPB for the first time. I receive a message informing me there is an hour wait due to current calls. I hang up and decide to go out back and see if I can get my small generator started. I usually start once or twice a month. I pull the cover off and roll into the middle of the deck. I now have enough daylight to see what I’m doing. I set the choke and give the rope a pull… nothing… again and again.. nothing, simply too cold to start.

I go back inside the house and call EPB again… this time I get a 20 minute wait message. The house is still warm. Too cold to go outside and nothing to do with no power, I call EPB again. This time I get a 5 minute wait message and decide to hold and wait. In a few minutes someone picks up and begins the conversation.

She ask me the routine identification questions and eventually I can ask about the power outage. She says there are about 60 outages and can give me no information about when my power will be restored. She is a pleasant woman and appears to appreciate my situation. I am of course irritated with my situation and press her for information. She has none, other than to tell me that most of the outages are caused from transformers “blowing” because of the demand for power, and that the transformers a localized which explains why all around me, other residents have power and I have none. She is very polite and tells me that I should receive an email when the workmen begin to work to restore the power. I thank her and cut the connection.

READ MORE

My concern is that the outage will last overnight and without heat, I can’t protect my water pipes and my pipes might burst. I can turn off the water at the main, which I will do, but there is still water in the pipes. My basement with my gas furnace on will keep the basement at about 40 degrees even with the thermostat set at 70 degrees. The only real exposure is the laundry room crawl space that was added years after the house was built in 1928.

After not being able to get the generator started, I rolled it into the kitchen to sit, hoping the warmth of the house would help it start. I walk to the kitchen and give the rope a few pulls… nothing… three pulls, 5 pulls, 8 pulls and nothing… 9, 10 and I get a friendly attempt to start, 11 and 12 the generator fires up with a puff of blue smoke that fills the small kitchen… I move the choke to run and roll the generator back to my covered deck to run for a few minutes before I attach the cable. I locate my power cable, attach to the generator and lay the cable out the the kitchen. I attach a power strip and connect my phone to charge, I connect my refrigerator and leave everything alone.

It is now about 10am and I don’t know when the lights will come on again. I get bundled up again, put the leash on the dog and we go for another walk.

I’ll wrap up with this. We put a man on the moon. A space station orbits the earth… numerous communication satellites, etc… Hubble and now Webb with the Grace telescope on the horizon. We sent a small satellite more than a million miles to move a moon out of it’s orbit and have plans to send people to our moon in 2024 or so with trips planned to Mars at some later date… but we can’t or won’t install transformers that can handle the power needs of fewer than 50 homes when the inhabitants need electricity for heat.

I will leave to you to draw your own conclusions…