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Power-hungry public makes Ohio Edison sweat the heat



Published: Tue, July 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The heat wave is pushing the electric utility beyond its limits.

VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT

YOUNGSTOWN -- Relief from the oppressive heat is on the way, but it's not coming today.

A cold front moving across the Great Lakes will cool off the Mahoning Valley on Wednesday, said Michael Doll, a meteorologist with WeatherData. Temperatures will be back into the 80s Wednesday through Friday, he said.

Today's temperature was to hit 92 degrees, the same as Monday's top temperature, Doll said. Monday's high was only 2 degrees under the July 23 all-time high of 94 degrees, reached in 1999.

Above the norm: The normal temperature for this time of the year in the Valley is 82 degrees and we'll be right around that mark through the rest of the work week, Doll said. Wednesday's high will be 83 degrees, Thursday's will be 80 degrees, and Friday's will be 81 degrees.

"It will be more pleasant and not as humid," Doll said.

That's good news.

As fans and air conditioners hummed, Ohio Edison found itself struggling to meet Monday's peak power demand and sometimes failing to do so.

Some 200 customers were without power between 4:30 and 4:50 p.m. in the vicinity of state Route 46 and New Road in Austintown because the power demand overloaded a transformer, said Paul Harkey, Ohio Edison area manager.

In the Paxton Drive area of Boardman, a blown fuse knocked out power to 101 customers between 5:10 and 5:40 p.m. The same 101 customers lost power again when a fuse blew at the same location at 6:41 p.m., and their power was restored just before 9 p.m., Harkey said.

As the temperature soared to 92 degrees, about 200 other customers throughout the Youngstown-Warren area were without power Monday for the same weather-related reasons, he said.

Record demand: Ohio Edison reached 12,850 megawatts -- the highest daily demand for power in its history -- at 3 p.m. Monday for all of its Ohio and Pennsylvania service area. The former record was 12,700 set in July 1999. Harkey said another record is possible for today.

Hubbard outages: The city of Hubbard, which operates its own power department, had crews out most of Monday dealing with power outages on the city's west end.

"We have so much growth in that part of town," said Hubbard Mayor George Praznik. "Demand is more than we expected."

The heat also caused Stewart Street to buckle, he said.

"The paving bricks under the blacktop were about a foot or two higher because of the heat," Praznik said. "That's the first time I ever saw that caused by heat."

To cool off: For those with heat-related health concerns and who lack air conditioning at home, Austintown Township Hall will be available as a public shelter during the heat wave until 6 p.m. daily.

Volunteers will be available to take anyone who needs a ride to the township hall, Trustee Bo Pritchard announced during a township trustees meeting Monday evening.

"If you need help getting here, call the township hall and let us know. Someone will volunteer to make sure that the heat is not a threat to your safety or health," he said.

Pritchard also said malls and community halls will be available as shelters in other Mahoning Valley communities. "Make sure that we do not have any elderly sweltering in houses that do not have air conditioning," he urged the public.




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