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Obion County sizzles under oppressive heat; region in need of rain

Obion County sizzles under oppressive heat; region in need of rain
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Obion County’s heat wave is driving up more than just thermometers this summer. It’s also driving up electricity and water usage.
Officially, the thermometer hit the 90-degree mark for the first time on June 20, and it’s been incredibly hot and humid ever since. Unofficially, digital signs around town and vehicle thermometers have been registering highs around the 108-degree mark during the past few weeks.
Yes, it’s summer in Obion County and the rhetorical question, “Hot enough for ya’?” is definitely getting a workout.
Couple the high temperatures with the recent lack of rainfall and the county is definitely experiencing a severe drought that’s taking its toll on local residents.
Since June 1, the official rainfall tally is four days of measurable rain and a total of less than two inches of precipitation.
So far this year, it has rained a total of 15.2 inches, which is quite a difference from last year, when the official year-to-date rainfall amount totaled 42.7 inches. A year ago, Obion County had nine days of rain in June, totaling just over five inches.
Many local residents are finding refuge from the heat indoors, where air conditioners provide some comfort. And that is causing a real spike in electrical usage.
“The Union City Electric System hit its highest peak since 2007 last Friday with a load of almost 60 Megawatts, neglecting the lost Goodyear load,” UCES manager Jerry Bailey told The Messenger today.
The Tennessee Valley Authority hit its highest June peak of 30,771 Megawatts last Friday and its highest Saturday peak load of 30,099 Megawatts last Saturday, according to Bailey. Friday’s five-city average (the five largest cities in the TVA area) temperature was the highest since July 1952 of 104 degrees.
He said Union City Electric has had very few outages from the heat.
“So far, not a single customer transformer has failed from the heat,” Bailey said. “The extreme heat puts a severe strain on the power system. We analyze the system every year to try to find weak points in the system. The process has paid off this year for sure.
“Our customers have seen very few outages during the extreme heat due largely to this preparation and our employees taking time to build and repair it right the first time. We also do infrared studies of the system to find pending failures before they happen.”
Along with the heat comes higher electric use, he added. “Please keep in mind the thermostat settings and minimize air loss in the house,” he said. “This will help somewhat to keep the higher bills at bay.”
Rita Alexander with Gibson Electric Membership Corp. reported a major increase in electric usage for residential and small commercial customers across the region this past month. The utility company reported average usage on June 1 was 27.9 kwh, but on June 29 the average usage was 67.6 kwh. That represents a 240 percent increase.
In addition to electricity, Union City residents are also using significantly more water during this heat wave, according to Jason Moss, who oversees Union City’s water plant.
The local water plant set a record of pumping 5,513,000 gallons of water on June 28, and then on Monday the water plant pumped another 5,359,000 gallons of water to customers in the city. The June 28 usage set a new record for the city’s water plant, according to Moss, who said normal usage for the water plant is from 4 million to 4.3 million gallons of water per day.
The recent heat wave has also taken its toll on animals.
There have been three heat-related deaths — dogs — at the Reelfoot Animal Hospital in the past few days and several animals have been brought in with heat-related ailments, according to a spokesman.
In this extreme heat, pet owners are encouraged to take extra precautions with their furry companions. Dogs that are normally kept indoors, particularly flat-nosed and short muzzled dogs, are the most susceptible to the effects of heat and owners are encouraged to limit and supervise their trips outside.
Those pet owners with outside animals are encouraged to make certain their pets have plenty of shade, as well as clean, fresh drinking water.
Local farmers, too, are feeling the brunt of the summer heat wave, but that’s a whole other story, which will be included in Friday’s edition. Published in The Messenger 7.5.12

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