By Rick Kelley
BECKLEY, W.Va. — The cold temperatures plaguing West Virginians are also causing their share of problems for Appalachian Power as the utility tries to keep pace with heavy demand for electricity this month.
Appalachian Power customers in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee set an unofficial all-time peak demand of 8,410 megawatt at 8 a.m. on Jan. 7.
“Days like today, they’re great revenue boosters, but quite honestly, personally, I’d rather have a hot day because a hot day is more equitable” when it comes to power usage, Charles Patton, president and COO of Appalachian Power, said Tuesday.
In a wide-ranging talk before the Beckley Rotary Club, Patton candidly gave his views on coal and gas and their respective places on a local and a global scale, and gave a generally sobering prediction of coal’s future both politically and economically.
But on a day that started around the zero mark in Beckley, Patton said he is frustrated by the challenges his company faces in West Virginia.
“We have a $5 or $6 million energy efficiency program that’s in place right now (and) we’d like to expand it,” Patton said. “In West Virginia we have very bad housing stock, we have too many people who live in manufactured housing, some of it not even designed for this area of the country,” said Patton, who described energy efficiency in the state as “woeful.”
Patton said Appalachian Power will inspect a dwelling and recommend ways to weatherize the home, many times recommending a new heat pump or new cooling system.
“And we say that’ll cost you $4,000. And through our program we’ll give you $2,000. For many West Virginians, it might as well be a million dollars. It just doesn’t happen…”