Cold snap prompts record energy use

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Frigid temperatures across Covington County and the southeast had many people staying inside and cranking up the heat over the Christmas weekend.

According to the electric providers supplying the county – Andalusia Utilities, Opp Utilities and Covington Electric Cooperative – that was a major reason for record energy usage across the area.

“The recent cold snap strained several utilities across the southeast,” said Mayor Earl Johnson, chair of Andalusia Utilities. “Cold weather usually increases demand in our area as people turn up the heat, especially overnight and in the morning, during freezing temperatures.”

PowerSouth, the wholesale power supplier for these electric providers, recorded its highest ever peak demand early on Christmas Eve, meaning the cooperative supplied the most electricity in its history.

Demand recorded at 2,675 megawatts (MW), just over 200 MW higher than the previous all-time peak of 2,458 MW in 2018.

“Fortunately, we were able to meet the historic demand in our area with limited service interruptions,” said Ed Short, President, CEO and General Manager of Covington Electric Cooperative.

“Our wholesale power supplier, PowerSouth, has done a good job of planning for the kinds of peaks like those we experienced in last week’s extreme weather,” Johnson said. “It is thanks to that planning that we had minimal interruptions in our area, and I know area residents are appreciative.”

During periods of extreme weather, or during peak times (usually cold winter mornings and hot summer afternoons), conserving energy is one of the smartest things end-users can do because it keeps costs low and ensures a steady, reliable supply of energy to everyone.

Conserving energy can be as simple as:

  • Lowering thermostats, even a degree or two, during winter weather.
  • Turning off lights, electronics and devices that are not in use.
  • Delaying household chores like laundry or washing dishes.

“Anything residents can do to lower their energy usage will help our entire community as we continue to bring reliable, affordable power to our communities,” said Stacey Parker, General Manager and CFO of Opp Utilities.