By Jeff Gallatin
Residents and FirstEnergy officials are awaiting the results of tests at a Kenilworth home to help determine the cause of frequent brownouts and power outages in the area.
FirstEnergy installed a voltage graph at the home Thursday after its occupants and other residents lodged complaints with the power utility and also came to the July 22 Bay Village City Council meeting to voice their complaints about the brownouts and power outages. Mohanna Eierdam, who operates a home business with her husband, said the latest brownout the week of July 15 damaged computers and other items in her home. Other residents of the Kenilworth and Parkside areas at the council meeting also spoke of damage and problems caused during similar outages during the last few years.
“We want to get a resolution to the problems that we’ve been having the last few years,” Eierdam, who served as a spokeswoman for the neighborhood residents, said Friday. “We’re hoping that they can get this taken care of.”
Eierdam said she appreciated having the monitor placed on her home’s electric meter, but added she wanted to make sure it’s a test that provides the best information.
“Naturally, it comes on during the first cool spell we’ve had in a while,” she said. “I want to make sure they get the best, most accurate reading on the situation. They say it can be on for seven days, so if it’s cooler during those days I’m going to ask them to come back when it’s hotter and make sure they have it on during some of those days so they can get a reading on what it’s like when it’s hotter. I hate to wish for hot weather, but I’d like it for a few days so they can see what’s going on.”
About 30 residents of the area signed a petition about the problem and gave it to the utility and city officials to show their concern, she said.
Eierdam said her experience has been that the brownouts and outages occur when a neighbor’s air conditioner kicks on.
“She needs the air conditioner; it’s an ancient one, but she needs it to breathe,” she said. “We just want to find a way to make sure the utility has the right equipment installed in the neighborhood so we all can get the power we need without causing the brownouts.”
She noted that one man at the meeting indicated some of the utility equipment in the area dates back to the 1930s. She said one utility worker noted there was some old equipment in the area. Others noted they had been told they didn’t have enough electricity coming through the lines.
Karen Kirsh, manager of external affairs for FirstEnergy, said the voltage graph should help show whether the problem is indeed present when the one home’s air conditioner kicks in. She said the information will help the utility move forward in trying to find a solution to the problems.
She said the utility was aware of and working on the problem prior to the council meeting.
“We are talking and working with the residents on this,” she said.
Kirsh said that there also will be crews in the area trimming trees to help keep them away from the utility lines and equipment.
“We do that throughout the (northern Ohio) area on a four-year schedule. That area was up to be done, so
we’ll be moving ahead with that,” she said.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland said the city would help the residents with the utility where it can.
“We’ve talked to our area representative (Kirsh) for Bay Village, and she’s indicated they are at work on trying to see what is causing the problems,” Sutherland said. “We want to make sure our residents are taken care of. We also would urge the residents to allow the utility workers access to their properties when they need to get on them to do the tree trimming and other work.”
Sutherland said the city would continue to stay in contact with the residents and the utility about the problems.