Outages in St. George as summer use strains power systems, experts urge conservation

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jul 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-04 00:04:09-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Homeowners in southern Utah use more energy in the first part of July than they do all year. Utility directors say it can put strain on the system, and even cause brownouts.

But energy conservation can play a part in preventing a power outage.

St. George City Conservation Coordinator Rene Fleming said in the summer, St. George power users' peak is in the range of 175-180 megawatts a day. The average winter use is closer to 90 megawatts. It makes sense, considering there are more cooling days compared to heating ones, but Fleming said that demand can often overload the system.

“It’s the time of year when sometimes we have a few outages related to the stress on the lines,” Fleming said. “We work hard to be a robust utility, and make sure those outages are as short as possible.”

In the past month, users have seen three different outages during peak hours, but redundancies in the system mean they’ve typically lasted less than 30 minutes. Fleming said energy conservation can potentially help reduce the frequency, but it’s not something many residents think about.

“I don’t know how I would save, how I would conserve energy,” St. George resident Susan Rebber admitted. “I mean, because it’s so hot you’ve got to have your air conditioner, and you can’t leave it off when you’re not home, because you’ve got cats.”

Fleming said conservation can happen simply, by just turning off lights when not in the room or unplugging appliances when not in use. She said many times people think about the big gestures, and don’t realize the small ones.

“If you’re going to cook, grill outside,” Fleming suggested. “As opposed to something that needs to heat your oven up. Because if you use your oven, you’re adding a lot more heat load to your house.”

Additional tips from St. George city include:

• Run the dishwasher only when it's full. Wash only full loads of clothes. If you must do a small load and your machine has a manual water adjustment, adjust the water level lower. Using less water saves on the energy needed to heat hot water as well as saving water.

• In the summer, set the thermostat a couple of degrees higher and use ceiling fans to circulate the air. You'll save energy and be comfortable.

• Take a shorter shower. This is another way to save water and the energy used to heat water.

• Turn off and unplug electronics when you are done using them for the day. Anything with a remote uses a small amount of electricity when it's turned off but plugged in as it's waiting for you to hit the "on" button on the remote.

• Is your phone, tablet or other mobile device fully charged? If so, unplug it.