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City gets ready for power outages
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Rincon Public Works Director Tim Bowles shows off one of the pumps that will continue to operate even during planned power outages. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

It’s one thing when the power goes out for a few hours and the hardest thing you have to deal with at home is hoping your freezer doesn’t defrost before the power comes back on.

But what if you’re a huge grocery store or a city delivering water and sewer services?

Rincon Mayor and local Kroger store manager Ken Lee said that losing power to a large store like Kroger will require a lot of time, manpower and forethought. He said that in some of the refrigerated cases, for example, they may be able to use dry ice to keep the temperatures down, but with ice creams they may have to load those onto refrigerated trucks until the power returns.

Although the store does have backup generators, they are mostly used to power emergency lighting and computers in the store. The outage that will affect Kroger is scheduled for April 7, although there is an alternate date for weather conditions. Lee is waiting to hear if they will close the store during the outage but said if they do close, it will likely be an overnight closure to minimize the disruption.

Rincon City Manager Mike Phillips said water and sewer services are critical areas, especially as the projected outage by Georgia Power could be as long as eight hours. He said the water should be OK, but that since a lot of residents use grinder pumps, which operate on electrical power, this has to be taken into account by homeowners.

Rincon Public Works Director Tim Bowles showed off one of the city’s stand-alone bypass pumps, which will kick in during the power outage. He said they currently have three in operation and eventually will have one at each of the city’s 15 lift stations.

“Right now, we’re going to have five lift stations affected (by the outage),” he said. “We may have to rent a couple of pumps to go with a couple of the other lift stations.”

He said the bypass pumps, which cost about $38,000 each, pump about 1,600 gallons per minute and run on diesel fuel.

Phillips also said residents should be aware of any family members who may be using special breathing or other health equipment (also refrigerators, freezers, hot water heaters, quick heaters, etc).

This will be a dangerous time for residents if it is cold and they use space heaters or fireplaces and everyone must appreciate that some businesses affected will need to be closed on those certain days, City Hall included.

Residents may want to check the outage listings so they will know when their areas will be out of commission for that day. And just going out to eat may not be as easy as it sounds, if the restaurant you choose happens to be within the same electrical delivery zone. Georgia Power officials emphasize that highway signal lights also will be affected and that even though arrangements have been made with local law enforcement to direct traffic at those points, drivers should use extreme caution.