Curtis Tate Published

PSC Chair: State Narrowly Avoided Christmas Weekend Power Failure

Snow on Tree Cecelia Mason

The chair of the Public Service Commission told lawmakers that the state avoided a disaster when temperatures plunged the day before Christmas Eve.

“We were very lucky it was Christmas and not in the middle of the week,” Charlotte Lane told the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday. “If we had been in the middle of the week and everybody was at work, and all of the manufacturing was up, it could have been very difficult.”

Lane said she got a call from PJM Interconnection, the regional electricity grid that includes West Virginia. PJM requested that she tell the electric utilities that serve West Virginia customers to ask them to conserve power.

Ultimately, no rolling blackouts happened in West Virginia. They did happen in the Tennessee Valley Authority and Duke Energy in North Carolina.

Lane said about 40 percent of the natural gas fired power plants in PJM failed that weekend.

No data has been released on what plants failed.

PJM is investigating what caused the failures. Utilities whose plants failed could face $1 billion to $2 billion in penalties.