Winter Storm Elliot

About a month ago, the overnight temperature dropped to 24 degrees and I was awakened as my furnace, just outside my bedroom window, failed to come on. As it is relatively new, I assumed the gas line and/or regulator had frozen. So, I got up, started the kerosene heater and went back to bed.

As Winter Storm Elliot approached Friday night, with the temperature forecast to drop into single digits, I brought the kerosene heater back out, and sure enough, the furnace failed to come on about 1:00 am, just like before. I let the kerosene heater and went back to bed.

When the furnace failed to come on the next morning, I grew concerned and devised a plan to cover my gas line and regulator with a fleece blanket and put an electric frying pan under it. The furnace finally came on about 1:00 pm.

With more single digit temps forecast for Saturday night, I repeated the process and the furnace came on about 10:00 am, Sunday morning.

Last night’s temperature was scheduled to be in the teens, so I prepared to repeat the process again. About 8:00, I received a message on my phone, thanking me for helping to reduce power consumption the previous two nights by participating in the rolling blackout.

That is when I remembered participating in Duke Energy’s energy conservation effort by allowing them to place a box on my furnace, so they could reduce power at peak times. I remember it being Summer and thinking I wouldn’t notice a reduction in my AC, while asleep. It never occurred to me they would also use it in Winter.

I put the electric frying pan, fleece blanket and drop cord away, and fired up the kerosene heater. Sure enough, the furnace failed to start about 10 pm, but came back on at 10 am, this morning, as stated in the message.

Later, as I was perusing Twitter, I came across this:

“Duke Energy assures me NC is in the clear now. But I’m deeply concerned about people who lost power and who didn’t get notice about rotating outages. Grateful for those who conserved energy. I’ve asked Duke for a complete report on what went wrong and for changes to be made. – RC”

Later, I came across this from Tim Buckey, WFMY meteorologist:

“I just don’t understand. Low temperatures in the 10-20° happen several times each winter and this is not something that’s happened before. Something with the grid must be damaged.”

Combine those comments with the report of two more power substations in the Northwest being attacked and a conspiracy theory begins to emerge.

But first, allow me to relate a phone call I received from Duke Energy, several months ago, asking if I would like to participate in their green energy program, by adding a few dollars to my monthly bill. I replied that I consider natural gas to be the cleanest and least expensive energy source available. He began to insist and I ended up hanging up on him.

Is Duke Energy taking advantage of extreme temperatures as excuses to invoke rolling blackouts, in an effort to convince us to invest in alternative energy?

Does this have anything to do with over 100 attacks, so far this year, on the electric power grid?

Is our government using the power companies to engage in increased fearmongering, now that the COVID crisis has ended?

I’m happy to rely on kerosense during winter storms, but then I live alone, my 100 year-old home is well insulated and I can close off the bedrooms and easily heat the living area.

What must it be like to do without heat in suburban McMansions, with high ceilings, wasted space and young children?

Whereas the Governor and our local meteorologist are starting to have questions about Duke Energy and their motives, mine began after that phone call.

“Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.”

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