Weather reports early in the week of June 13 looked worrisome, with severe storms forecasted Monday and extreme heat predicted later in the week. We were prepared for the possibility of power outages — what we didn’t expect was AEP Ohio’s biggest weather event in the past 10 years. Lightning and straight-line winds nearing 75 miles per hour crossed the state that Monday night, toppling trees and power lines. Within the first 12 hours more than 155,000 customers lost power, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of Ohio.
The storm also caused significant damage to some high-voltage transmission lines that feed power to the Columbus area. As temperatures climbed into the 90s and demand for energy grew, some transmission lines quickly ended up being operated above their normal capacity, requiring immediate emergency forced outages for those served by those lines. By Tuesday evening, 170,000 customers in the Columbus area were without power, bringing the total number of customers out to nearly 250,000.
Restoring Power Across the State
Damage assessment was difficult because many roads were blocked by fallen branches and other debris. The final tally of damage across AEP Ohio’s service territory was significant: more than 450 electric poles and 2,100 spans of wire down, plus 200 broken crossarms. In Eastern Ohio — including Belmont, Cambridge, Coshocton, Mt. Vernon, Newark and Zanesville — 135 poles were replaced and 645 spans of wire were either repaired or fully replaced.
AEP Ohio deployed more than 2,500 workers, with many working 16-hour shifts to repair damage caused by the storm. That included 569 full-time employees, 929 contract employees (roughly three times our everyday average), 470 tree-trimmers and 572 transmission employees. Help arrived from beyond Ohio’s borders – crews from Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas and even Canada – and the full team steadily chipped away at the damage. Below is a small snapshot of what our crews encountered:
More than ninety percent of customers were back on by Thursday afternoon, yet work continued in some of the hardest hit areas, like Wooster. Offroad work required driving through fields and heavily wooded areas just to access our equipment – making progress slow-going. By Monday, June 20 the power was flowing again to all customers across Ohio.
We know being without power, especially for an extended period of time, is difficult. We truly appreciate your support as our crews worked to restore power in your community.