3 April 1999

State asks Floridians to Conserve Electricity

Florida utility companies and state emergency officials appealed to residents statewide Tuesday to conserve electricity in light of a dip in power resources. The combination of unusually warm weather in parts of the state, like Tampa, where the high reached a record of 89 degrees Tuesday, and routine spring maintenance on power plants has reduced generating capacity statewide.

The power levels haven't dropped to dangerously low levels, but they are low enough for utility companies to urge residents to turn up the thermostats on air conditioners and lay off laundry during peak afternoon hours. "A lot of the utilities in the state have units off-line for scheduled spring maintenance", said a Tampa Electric spokesman. "Yet we are in the early stages of spring and already we are experiencing summer-like weather".

Weather forecasters expect the dry, hot weather to continue through the end of the week, which could hinder efforts to bring power plants reserves up to normal levels. "There is a limited temporary electricity capacity alert and it may last through the end of the week", said a spokesman from FPL. "FPL is encouraging customers to use energy wisely. But we are not asking for extraordinary measures."

Customers statewide were told to take some basic steps to conserve power: Raise air condition thermostats 5-10 degrees. Turn off nonessential lighting and appliances like dishwashers and pool pumps. Postpone use of laundry equipment until the late evening hours. Close curtains and blinds to help insulate homes and buildings.

Contributing to the power shortage is rountine maintenance on power plants. Utility companies usually schedule such projects in the spring in preparation for the hot summer months. When the largest power plant in the state, a 910 megawatt facility in St. Lucie County, dipped to 830 megawatts, that sent out an alert to utility companies of a potential for power outages. "The alert says things are tight", said a spokeswoman for the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents most of the utilities in the state. "We are asking people to conserve to help make sure things don't happen". The last alert was in 1993, she said.

So far, no power outages have been detected and none are expected, despite the lower than normal power supply. "We're a long way from that," said the Tampa Electric spokesman. "It's not that we're out of reserves, they're just lower than we like then." http://www.tdo.com/news/breaking/docs/7POWER-CMP-NWS.htm

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