Rolling power blackouts affect 5,000 Aiken County residents

Aiken County's cold snap, which will linger today, wreaked havoc with power lines on Monday, delayed school start times and took some school buses out of commission for several hours.

Monday's overnight low of 10 degrees and Tuesday's high of 31 degrees resulted in nearly 5,000 power outages for SCE&G customers in Aiken County.

To get its service back online, SCE&G implemented a number of planned rolling blackouts throughout its service territory on Monday.

The 15-minute blackouts were initiated to “protect the stability of the electric system.”

By 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday, the number of residents in Aiken County with power outages had dropped from 5,000 to about 70. As of 4:35 p.m., nearly all of the affected customers had regained power.

Emily Brady with SCE&G public affairs said the company is encouraging limited use of its power during the cold snap.

“We're mostly back up and running, and we're just bracing for another cold night,” Brady said on Tuesday afternoon. “We're asking customers to be mindful of their power use and to monitor their usage behavior during this cold weather. And, as always, we appreciate their patience in the matter.”

In an evening press release, the company added that conservation from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening and from 6 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning would help lessen the stress on the electric system and reduce the potential for outages.

Public school start times were delayed by two hours on Monday, and the same delay is in effect today. A number of school buses had to run double routes on Monday to cover for other buses that were non-operational due to the cold.

The extreme temperatures also affected other local organizations, including the Salvation Army

The organization said it relaxed its requirements for people to stay at the shelter to keep people inside and warm. The requirements include showing identification and stipulations that patrons can only stay in the shelter for 14 days and can't return for 90 days after leaving.

Shelter Director Paul Volz said the shelter waived many of the rules due to the weather.

“It's looking like we'll return back to our normal rules tomorrow (Wednesday), but we'll see how the weather goes,” Volz said. “If they don't want to go back out, we'll extend the waiver another day.”

While some organizations were affected, others surprisingly were not.

The Aiken County chapter of the American Red Cross reported it did not have to respond to any fires or any other related incidents as a result of the weather conditions. In addition, the local S.C. Department of Transportation office said problems were limited to residents leaving their sprinklers on and other minor issues.

Today's low is projected to be 29 degrees with a high of only 42 degrees. There is also a projected high of 42 degrees on Thursday with a 30 percent chance of rain and winds up to 7 mph.

SCE&G Call centers have been experiencing heavy volume since yesterday; still, SCE&G is encouraging residents to report outages at sceg.com/storm or through their mobile device at sceg.com/mobile. To call in power outages, customers can call 888-333-4465. Customers may also view outages on SCE&G's outage map.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.

He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.

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