Tampa Bay electric companies see rise in power usage, increase to continue as days get warmer

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Several communities in our area have experienced power outages this week, which is completely debilitating at a time when we’re all limping along through this coronavirus crisis.

“My entire house came to a stand still,” said Janice Estes, a teacher in Hillsborough County.

The Estes family does their part to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis. Mom and dad work off their computers while their two sons finish their college semester online. Everything stopped when the power went out in their Temple Terrace neighborhood earlier this week.

“I panicked. I was in the middle of working on assignments that had to be done within three hours,” said Sam Estes, who’s finishing his semester in college.

Forty-five minutes later TECO crews had everything turned back on. However, that might not always be the case.

“When something like that happens, if it were to be for an extended time it could be pretty devastating,” Janice said.

That had Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore concerned during a COVID-19 regional meeting.

“As we move into hotter months, with so many kids now, we could possibly have issues with the grid,” he said.

He later put out a statement that said:

“With more people working from home and students participating in distance learning from home, we thought it was important to discuss the possibility of utility loads as we approach the warmer months. We also discussed many other possibilities on the agenda yesterday.”

On a positive note, Duke Energy reached out after the meeting to say energy supply is not a concern and not expected to be an issue. With many large facilities and school buildings physically closed, they are actually seeing reduced demand right now. Duke Energy further stated they are not seeing significant impacts to their supply chain.

“I appreciate the dialogue with Duke Energy and I look forward to continuing to work with our regional, state and federal partners to make sure we are fully prepared for the effects of COVID-19 on our communities.”

Duke Energy told 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal it’s the AC units outside that have brought a surge in usage at homes. That will continue as days get hotter.

They say power grids can handle it, but families left without work may not be able to. They suggest reducing energy now to save on higher bills that may compound in future months.

Several companies out there are not charging late fees or shutting off power, but the real hurt could be for families who put off paying bills and then getting a larger bill once life gets back to normal.

For those looking for ways to reduce energy costs can click here for information. Or for more information on energy use during the coronavirus crisis, click here.

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