Day 66. That means it’s been more than two months of consecutive days over 90 degrees. And many people have the electric bills to prove it.
John Kraft from Georgia Power recommends that people can save on energy bills by keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees and using fans to help cool rooms. He says fans use less electricity.
Kraft also told us that smart grid technology has helped to keep the electricity on statewide during this long, hot summer. “Part of what we’re doing to build our robust system and upgrade the network has helped us serve those high demands throughout the summer without heat related issues,” he said.
Some of the upgrades include technology that allows the utility to pinpoint the locations of problems and or outages more quickly and then dispatch crews. Kraft says that reduces the time people are without electricity. The company says about 1.2 million customers across the state are connected to an automated network with new upgrades and projects that are helping keep their service reliable.
He also says they have technology now called “self healing circuits” that can automatically isolate problems and restore power to unaffected areas. “And that means instead of losing that whole circuit we can isolate that problem area to a smaller number of customers and get the rest of the customers back on more quickly and automatically in some cases,” said Kraft. The utility says its sytem has more than 715 self-healing circuits. In coastal Georgia, he says 112,000 homes are now served by these self-healing circuits.
In addition, the company says it’s been investing in new infrastructure such as power poles, wires and underground cables (over $1 Billion in the past five years.) At Wilmington Island substation there are plans for changes. “Upgrades for this station will take place next year,” Kraft told us. “We’re bringing in new technology to help our system talk to the control center, talk to other parts of the system better and to get lights back on as quickly as possible and better manage the system and make for fewer and shorter outages.”
In terms of current bills, many customers may be unaware but Kraft says the bill for average users has gone down about $10 since the first of the year because of two rollbacks because of lower fuel costs to generate electricity. But many who are using more electricity now to cool their homes are unlikely to notice the decrease.
Kraft indicated that people should continue trying to keep their thermostat at that 78 degree mark and utilize other methods such as making sure drapes are drawn to keep homes dark.
He also said the utility offers free home energy audits as well as online tools to assist customers.