electricity

Rebecca Kiger

Far from the ocean and Puerto Rico’s famous beaches, narrow roads wind into mountains not unlike the country roads of our home, West Virginia. After hours of driving we reach a rural community in the island’s center called Tetuan Tres. Like so many places in rural Appalachia, you don’t come here accidentally.

We’ve come to learn more about how families here are recovering from natural disaster, and what it might teach us about the ways West Virginia communities can cope with devastating floods.


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A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul would allow Fort Knox to continue producing natural gas to power the Army base.

Almost a year ago, Fort Knox became the first U.S. base to generate all of its own electricity. The move was spurred by the region’s 2009 ice storm; parts of Fort Knox lost power for nearly a week and highlighted the national security need for the base to become self-sufficient.

“It was pretty devastating, and Fort Knox was without power for upwards of seven days in some places,” Fort Knox Energy Manager R.J Dyrdek said in March.

The transition was helped by the discovery of natural gas reserves under the property. Now, Fort Knox is powered by a mixture of solar power, on-site natural gas and geothermal. In 2013, the post unveiled the largest solar panel array on a military installation east of the Mississippi River.

Developing natural gas resources on federal lands usually falls to the Department of the Interior. The bill introduced last week by Paul, a Republican, would make Fort Knox an exception and allow the Department of Defense to keep producing natural gas to power the site.

Bowling Green Municipal Utilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority are asking customers – both businesses and residential – to assist in conserving power today.  Temperatures are expected to remain frigid through Friday, further taxing the electric grid. Shelley Lowe with BGMU says homeowners can take easy steps to save energy.

“It can be simple things like at home, not running your appliances. If you can wait a few days – that would be great; lowering your thermostat to 60 degrees and reducing the usage of lights and unplugging things that aren’t in use,” said Lowe.

Lowe says this “emergency load curtailment” request may be lifted on Friday as temperatures gradually warm. The National Weather Service predicts highs in the mid-20s by Friday and upper 30s by Saturday.