Tuesday, December 29, 2009

EPA offers energy-saving strategies via 'Green Homes' Web site

The Environmental Protection Agency has created a new Web site to assist homeowners, buyers, and renters in finding and maintaining a green home. The Green Homes site, epa.gov/greenhomes, goes room by room to pinpoint places where residents can reduce energy waste through efficient energy and water usage, renewable energy, green home building materials and household products, and recycling from home construction and household activities. For those in the market to buy or build a home, the site also gives advice on how to select the most environmentally friendly location.

The Web site front page gives a diagram of a typical home layout, which visitors can click on any room to find out about different energy savings options. Choosing the bedroom, for example, brings a page that recommends an array of Energy Star electronics, gives information on different green furnishings, and illustrates what to look for in choosing the flooring. This room-by-room overview is then followed by broader information on lighting, cleaning, and even shopping for the home to reduce energy usage.

Other parts of the home analyzed for energy and water efficiency opportunities include the kitchen, bathroom, living room, office, laundry room, basement, garage, attic, roof and yard.

"The use of energy is related to virtually everything we do, or have in our homes," the agency said. "Obvious uses include using electricity to run appliances, electronics, and air conditioners, etc.; less obvious uses include consuming energy to purify and produce and convey water to our homes, and to make the products we purchase for use in our homes. If we take steps to green our homes, we can reduce energy use, save money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and help to fight global warming and climate change."

Tips are not just limited to homeowners who have the ability to make major changes to their residences, but also to renters. A checklist of options to make a rental property energy and water efficient is offered, as well as an overview on how to convince landlords to help green their properties.

The EPA plans to maintain the site as an umbrella portal for information on residential environmental issues from it and other federal agencies. More information is available at the Green Homes Web site, www.epa.gov/greenhomes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Power Board progress: A few dozen remain without power

Date: Dec 23, 2009; Section: Front Page; Page: 1A

Press Business Editor

It’s been more than 10 years since the Johnson City Power Board faced outages as widespread as those caused by Friday’s snowstorm, but crews had restored electricity to all but a few dozen customers by Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t quick enough for some people, but JCPB spokesman Robert White said frayed tempers and frustration are par for the course when weather events create multi-day, widespread havoc. “That normally happens with long outages,” White said. “We had some of that happen in ’98 and in ’93 (the last two major winter storms). Anytime someone’s without power for several days we understand they’re going to be frustrated.”He said that understanding was one reason JCPB kept its call center going full-speed throughout the past few days. “It gives customers a chance to talk with someone, because when people wind up without a real person on the other end of the line the frustration can get worse. “It gives them an assurance that someone has listened and heard their frustration, and that the work has been
turned in.”

White said the Power Board had worked all of its 20 or so available crews maximum hours since Friday, and different crews were working around the clock. All told, including outages that occurred in the days following the storm, an estimated 15,000 or so customers lost power at some point between Friday and Tuesday. The JCPB takes a methodical approach to fixing widespread outages, starting by repairing substation damage, three-phase lines and other factors that can put hundreds of customers in the dark. From there, crews narrow the work down to smaller-scale situations. By Monday, White said, most remaining work involved repairing or replacing blown transformers, fuses and other isolated cases. At that point, the JCPB was back to asking customers without power to call in. “We didn’t want to have customers slipping through the cracks,” White said. He said JCPB’s line crews were “fine” Tuesday despite the heavy workload. They’re just proud and pleased that they’re able to get the power back on. When they go out there and fuse a cutout or get some spans back on and they see lights come on, that’s when they’re happiest ... and they work hard.” White said that work will become even more efficient over the next few years as the Power Board rolls out an “advanced metering infrastructure.”

Ironically, JCPB commissioners spent part of their monthly meeting Tuesday
reviewing proposals for the system, which it will start deploying in February and expects to complete within 24 months. Once those meters are installed, the JCPB will be able to pinpoint outages down to each customer, remotely, through the new meters. The response to this month’s storm, White said, still involved some trial and error. “We’ll know immediately where we’re being affected,” White said. “We feel like we have it down really well (fixing widespread outages), but once you automate it from the meter it makes it a lot more efficient and accurate.”

If Mother Nature fails to cooperate between now and completion of the AMI system, White had one last request for customers involving something known as “cold load pickup.” He said after power is restored, waiting 10 minutes or so before cranking up the heating system can prevent a nasty surprise. If one fix suddenly restores power to 1,000 people or more, White said, some of those folks can experience an outage just minutes later. “When it comes back on, the first thing a lot of people do is kick that heat up to 80 degrees, and it can put such an immediate strain on the breakers it can knock them back out,” White said.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

JC Press Winter Storm Article

Date: Dec 20, 2009; Section: Section A Front; Page: 1A

Digging out
• Region reeling from major storm.
Press Staff Writer

A widespread winter storm that swept through the region Friday left more than 2,000 people without power for much of the weekend, according to Johnson City Power Board Chief Public Relations Officer Robert White. As the storm began spreading heavy snowfall throughout the city Friday afternoon, White said reports of power outages across the system began to trickle in around 5 p.m. Friday. “We spent most of (Friday) evening and early (Saturday) morning taking care of the breaker operations on the substation levels,” he said. As of 6:30 p.m. Saturday, approximately 2,500 of those customers were still without power, including customers in Colonial Heights and Piney Flats.

White said most of the power should be restored today, but it would likely be Monday before power was restored to the entire system. As temperatures began dropping Saturday night, White urged those still without power to begin seeking shelter. Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Gray served as a shelter to those in the Fall Branch community who were without power and seeking a place to stay warm overnight.

The JCPB worked around the clock Friday and Saturday to ensure power was being restored as quickly as possible. White said the Power Board brought in contract crews from Knoxville to assist in getting power restored to the area. “We’re working hard. Not only with crews outside, but our call center is open 24 hours to take calls of outages and assure customers that we’re working on getting power restored,” White said. Customers still experiencing power outages were asked to call the JCPB at 282-5272. People could also follow power outage updates on the JCPB’s Twitter account at www.twitter.com/jcpowerboard.

White said when dealing with power outages caused by snow, the heavy, wet flakes the area received Friday are some of the worst kind to deal with. The weight from the snow makes it easier for lines to be knocked down by trees. “That is a formula for disaster when looking at an electric infrastructure,” he said. White asked customers without power to make sure to unplug any major appliances, such as HVAC units and washing machines, to avoid circuit overloading if and when power is restored.

While Friday’s snow storm isn’t anywhere near as hazardous as the blizzard the area experienced in 1998, White said this storm system was definitely a problem for some areas. Appalachian Power, which covers Hawkins and Sullivan counties and pieces of Washington County, experienced a widespread power outage that left 135,000 without power early Saturday morning. By early Saturday afternoon, the outages topped 200,000. According to an update on Appalachian Power’s Web site, at 5 p.m. Saturday, nearly 20,000 customers remained without power,including300inWashington County.

While road conditions throughout the region were considered dangerous Friday night and early Saturday, by Saturday night the main city roads, including Interstate 26, of Washington County were fairly clear. Back roads were still considered hazardous, according to dispatchers with Washington County 911. As the night progressed and temperatures dropped, black ice was said to be a possibility across the region. Dispatchers with Carter County 911 said main roads are also fairly clear, however, reports of slick roads grew common as temperatures dropped.

Officers with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department said higher elevations began getting covered with snow again late Saturday, while main city roads remained clear. A large number of cars were abandoned on the side of many roads across the county due to the inclement weather brought by Friday’s storm. The strong winter storm that swept through this weekend left about 4 to 6 inches on the ground in Johnson City, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown. NWS representative Lyle Wilson said it’s possible that an additional 2 inches could fall overnight, but that the area has already seen “the worst of it.” “We’re not looking at anything real major from now on,” he said. Wilson said another system may move through the region beginning Wednesday night, mainly bringing rain showers. Wilson said a chance of snow showers is possible.

When You Must Leave Your House Due to a Prolonged Winter Power Outage | CMHC

If you or someone you know must leave their home because a prolonged power outage, the following link offers some helpful tips to make their departure (and return) a safer and more pleasant experience:
When You Must Leave Your House Due to a Prolonged Winter Power Outage | CMHC

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Food safety during power failures | NSW Food Authority

Read the referenced article below to learn more about food safety during power outages.
Food safety during power failures | NSW Food Authority

Substation Reference Map

In order to gain greater insight to the location of outages within our system please view our
Substation reference map.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

High wind damage aftermath: big time clean up time | TriCities

High wind damage aftermath: big time clean up time | TriCities

Obama taps Brown for TVA board » Knoxville News Sentinel

President Barack Obama announced Thursday he planned to nominate to the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors a professor who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The White House announced the President's plans to nominate Marilyn A. Brown for one of two vacant seats on the nine-member board. She shared the Nobel prize for her work with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since 2006, Brown has been a professor of energy policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Before that, she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managing an energy efficiency research and development program. The nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Follow the link below to read the full article as it appears in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Obama taps Brown for TVA board » Knoxville News Sentinel

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Strenghthening Your Connection

The Johnson City Power Board is proud to bring you four new ways to connect with us. As of December 9, 2009, we will be utilizing this blog in conjunction with our new Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as our channel on YouTube. These new tools offer our customers an easy way to stay abreast of current events as they happen at the Power Board. Whether we are alerting customers to an electrical outage, offering energy saving advice, or discussing energy policy, these sites offer an unprecedented means to stay connected to our company and operations. Visit all of our new sites, friend or follow us, and let's enjoy getting to know one another in a whole new way!