SCE&G asks customers to conserve energy ahead of cold temps

Published: Jan. 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2014 at 3:19 PM EST
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A snapshot of SQE&G's outage map at noon. (Source: SCE&G)
A snapshot of SQE&G's outage map at noon. (Source: SCE&G)

CAYCE, SC (WIS) - As South Carolina heads into day two of this extreme cold snap, SCE&G says they want customers to be mindful of their energy consumption.

In a release sent out early Tuesday evening, the utility says they want customers to monitor energy usage between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. Tuesday and 6 and 9 a.m. Wednesday.

SCE&G is hoping to avoid another day of potential outages. On Tuesday, thousands were without power as the utility worked feverishly to restore services while the temperatures dropped to levels not seen in years.

At the height of the outages, more than 51,000 customers were without power.

SCE&G says it was a combination of technical issues and usage. The company was forced to conduct rolling blackouts or have more systems fail.

Those blackouts were suspended just before 11 a.m. and the focus moved to power restoration for remaining outages.

Affected customers experienced windows of 15 minutes or longer without power.

Kissam said before the blackouts were implemented, the utility was headed toward a historic peak on the system.

The rolling blackouts were a first for the utility.

The utility lost part of its generating capacity due to weather driven mechanical issues at several of its power plants.

"Today we had an unprecedented situation occur on our electrical system," said Keller Kissam, SCE&G's president of retail operations. "We had an unusual situation that impacted our reliability."

That reliability was tested at Rosewood Elementary, where a power outage there forced school officials to close the school for a day.

SCE&G says it was a combination of mechanical problems at their generation facilities.

"You may have a sensor that is down by the river for example and the wind and the extreme temperatures caused it to freeze up and it's an extensive, extensive system we have at these power plants and it simply froze," said Kissam.

And an increase demand for power that caused the utility to systematically turn the power off some substations.

"We send that breaker a signal, it's automatic, and what it does it opens remotely and it isolates that circuit and so you drop that circuit for 15 to 30 minutes -- it could be a little longer based on what the load is doing at the time and then you re-energize it," said Kissam.

The utility says it has taken further steps, including bringing in portable heaters to avoid problems tomorrow.

"At this time, we're trying to get all the lessons learned that we possibly can to prevent it from happening because we'll have a similar challenge tonight," Kissam said.

Kissam said the utility does not anticipate having to cut people's power again Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Customers can report outages on the following website: or through their mobile device at

To report power outages, customers can call 1-888-333-4465. Customers may also view outages on SCE&G's outage map.

SCE&G says other utilities up and down the east coast were experiencing similar situations.

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