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Millions urged to conserve electricity amid extreme cold temperatures

"We are asking businesses and the public to help by immediately reducing electricity use as much as possible without sacrificing safety," AEP Ohio said in a release.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A power grid operator serving 13 states, including Ohio, sent out a plea to customers Saturday to conserve electricity amid extreme cold temperatures.

PJM Interconnection serves as the grid operator for 65 million people and says the extreme cold temperatures throughout the region have put extreme demands on the power system.

AEP reiterated the emergency request and is asking customers to reduce their electricity by:

  • Setting your thermostat lower than usual, if health allows
  • Postponing use of major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers
  • Turning off non-essential electric lights, equipment and appliances

"We are asking businesses and the public to help by immediately reducing electricity use as much as possible without sacrificing safety," AEP Ohio said in a release.

PJM and AEP Ohio ask that customers take these energy-conserving steps until 10 a.m. Dec. 25 to help ensure "adequate power supplies."

“We are actively working with PJM and other regional utilities to minimize the impact of this event on our customers,” said Marc Reitter, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “We understand that cutting back on use of electricity can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, especially during the holidays. This is a necessary step to prevent broader power interruptions, and we appreciate our customers’ efforts.”

AEP Ohio says customers should be prepared for the possibility of outages should they need to take further emergency action and check in with elderly or disabled family, friends and neighbors.

"On this holiday weekend, I want to say thank you to all our customers for conserving and responding to our calls for conservation is absolutely made a difference, but we're not we're not out of the woods yet," said Reitter.

If the demand for power is higher than what AEP can provide, it'll activate rolling blackouts or a series of temporary power shutdowns. It will cut power to each region for about five minutes at a time to prevent a power overload.

"It will be very annoying and very disruptive for customers. And we totally understand that. But it's necessary to protect the integrity of the broader grid that serves that 13-state footprint," Reitter said.

Susan Buehler, chief communications officer at PJM, told 10TV that the demand for electricity due to the cold weather increased and some of the extra power plants that PJM was calling to to help meet that supply were not able to operate.

Buehler said there has not been a situation like this since January 2014 during the polar vortex.

Ohio Consumers' Counsel Spokesperson, J.P. Blackwood, released the following statement:

“With the holidays and current frigid temperatures in Ohio, this is a difficult time for Ohio families to be asked to reduce electricity usage. However, PJM (the electric grid operator) is asking consumers in the 13-state region to conserve electricity from 4 a.m. today to 10 a.m. tomorrow given increased demand due to weather. Because of PJM’s concerns for the regional electric grid, Ohioans should look for ways to conserve electricity until 10 a.m. tomorrow, if health permits. We hope everyone stays safe.”

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