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In Case of a Regional Power Grid Emergency

Appalachian Power is prepared in the event of a regional power grid emergency.

Appalachian Power is a part of PJM, which operates the power grid across a 13-state region to ensure reliability for Appalachian Power and other utility customers.

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Emergency Tips to Reduce Electricity Use

Get latest updates

Emergency Tips to Reduce Electricity Use


In a regional power grid emergency, Appalachian Power and other utilities may have to reduce the demand for electricity on their systems so that the amount of available power generation can meet the demand.

If time permits, the first step is an emergency request for energy conservation – asking customers to reduce their energy use.

If further emergency action is required, PJM will direct utilities to reduce demand through controlled outages. This is an emergency action of last resort, taken only to avoid widespread power loss and to prevent long-term damage to the regional electric system.

Appalachian Power’s emergency plan interrupts power to parts of its service territory in a series of controlled outages, rotating the impacted areas whenever possible to limit the length of outages.


If the regional grid operator, PJM, declares an emergency requiring utilities to reduce the electric load on the regional power grid, Appalachian Power puts its emergency plan into action.

As the regional power grid operator, PJM would require the action as a last resort to avoid widespread power loss and to prevent long-term damage to the regional electric system. The action may be due to extreme temperatures, unexpected electric system problems, tight supplies of electricity across the region, or other power grid emergencies.

Appalachian Power would implement a series of controlled outages that temporarily disconnect power to customers in parts of our service territory, rotating the outages so that customers are not without power for longer than necessary.

Appalachian Power is part of an organization called PJM that operates the power grid in 13 states.

PJM makes sure – at any time of the day – that the amount of available power generation matches the amount of electricity needed by customers, plus an additional margin in case it’s needed.

In a regional power grid emergency, they work with member utilities like Appalachian Power to restore the grid to normal operations.

PJM does not own or operate generation or transmission facilities. Similar to air traffic controllers who monitor air space, PJM monitors and directs the electric power network to ensure that electricity safely and reliably gets to end-use customers in the region.

PJM is a regional transmission organization and not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members.

"Load shedding" is the emergency reduction of load – or electric demand – on the power grid to avoid widespread power loss and to prevent long-term damage to the regional electric system.

"Rolling blackouts" is the term referring to controlled power outages used by utilities to reduce load in power grid emergencies. Utilities interrupt power to parts of their service territories and then rotate the outages to other areas to limit the length of outages for customers.

When Appalachian Power has to reduce the load on its electric system in an emergency, we use “controlled outages.” PJM tells Appalachian Power and other electric utilities how much electric load we have to reduce.

In our emergency plan, Appalachian Power matches the number of circuits that add up to the amount of electricity we are required to reduce. For example, a circuit might have 500 to 1,500 customers, and Appalachian Power might need to disconnect 25 circuits. Those circuits would be in different locations around Appalachian Power’s three-state service territory. Appalachian Power would temporarily disconnect power to these circuits, and when possible, rotate to another group of circuits to limit the impact in any one location to one to two hours. It may take longer to get the power back on because of electric system issues or weather conditions.

The controlled outages should not affect critical public health and public safety facilities.

When Appalachian Power gets word from PJM that the controlled outages have reduced power enough, then the controlled outages can end.

During a longer emergency period, PJM could order additional controlled outages until the system returns to lower levels of emergency and then to normal operations.

Emergency conditions on the electric system can change quickly during emergencies.

PJM has to act fast to protect the electric system and avoid bigger and longer outages for all customers, and long-term damage to the regional electric system.

Appalachian Power and other electric companies have to act immediately to reduce the amount of electricity demand on our systems. We usually are not able to provide advance notice to specific locations or customers because we don’t know in advance how much electric load we need to reduce.

Usually, the first thing the public will hear is an emergency request to reduce use of electricity. If energy conservation action does not reduce electricity use enough, the additional emergency action may be needed, including controlled outages.

Appalachian Power makes every effort to notify customers about the requests to conserve electricity and the possibility of further emergency action.

Whenever possible, a request to conserve energy comes before other emergency action like controlled outages.

Appalachian Power asks customers to reduce electricity use as much as possible. Use energy needed for your personal safety and to protect against property damage. But adjust thermostats, avoid using unnecessary lighting and appliances, and keep doors, windows and blinds shut to retain heat inside. Get tips here Appalachian Power.com/Grid-Emergency.

Customer's combined efforts can reduce overall demand for electricity and help ease the emergency situation.

Individual customers’ efforts across the region make a difference.

PJM operates the multiple-state electric system – balancing energy production and electricity use for the entire area. That’s why energy conservation in one place, for example Delaware, can have a meaningful impact on electric reliability in another, like West Virginia, Ohio or Michigan. And our efforts contribute to reliability at home and across the 13-state PJM region.

PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Electric companies are connected to each other so they can work together for reliable electric service. They help each other out when there are power plant or other electric system problems. They work to get their customers the best price on power from different power plants. They work together to plan and build the right transmission lines to deliver electricity where it needs to go.

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