Power usage going up

By Billy Corriher

With freezing temperatures hitting the area this week, Georgia Power is reporting a substantial increase in usage as people need more power to keep their homes warm.

Carol Boatright, Georgia Power spokeswoman, said that so far in January, the company has seen one out of every five days that has been colder than usual, resulting in a 7 percent increase in usage.

The company saw a similar increase last month, but Boatright said the increase has not yet affected the area's power supply.

"It would probably have to get considerably worse for a long period of time to strain our supply," she said. "It's not been nearly as cold as it could get."

Boatright said the local supply comes from an electrical grid that is fed from power plants all around the state.

"Everybody's pulling out of that same pool," she said. "We may be using energy generated in Rome or Macon or anywhere."

Nick Gold, spokesman for Atlanta Gas Light company, said the amount of gas the company has been sending out has probably increased with this week's cold weather.

"It's cold and we're pumping out a lot of gas, but we've got a lot in supply," he said.

When looking at the entire winter season, Gold said it's actually been warmer this year, and the company has had to supply less natural gas.

Brian Miller, director of auxiliary services, purchasing and risk management for Clayton County Schools, said the school system has seen an increase in heating costs with the recent cold weather. But he said the increase is not significant enough to strain the system's resources.

"For a cold spell like this, we'll see fluctuations in our heating costs, but nothing major," Miller said.

If increases in heating costs are hurting residents, they may seen get a little relief, as the National Weather Service is predicting temperatures will get a little warmer this weekend.

"The next couple of days will be warmer with temperatures reaching the low 50's," said Shirley Lamback, National Weather Service spokeswoman.

No rain is in the forecast until Sunday night, Lamback said, when there will be a 30 percent chance of rain.

And though temperatures will be considerably warmer the next few days, Lamback said the worst weather of winter could still be in the future.

"You've still got to get through February," she said. "And that can be just as cold as January."