West Kentucky RECC is joining state and local agencies in preparing for an influx of visitors during the total solar eclipse that will sweep across the region on the afternoon of August 21, 2017. While the WKRECC service area lies just outside the designated “total” viewing areas, local hotels and campgrounds are all expected to be full.
“In terms of electrical demand, the eclipse will be like an extra summer holiday,” said Rich McGill, WKRECC Engineering manager. “The Fourth of July can strain our system if the weather is very hot and we expect the eclipse visitors will do the same.” He explained that the co-op prepares by making sure all its distribution equipment is ready to go and will coordinate closely with TVA, our power provider, as they manage heavy loads across the Tennessee Valley.
“Our goal is always zero outages, but with high temperatures, extra visitors, and heavy traffic causing more vehicle accidents, we will be ready to respond should an outage occur,” he said.
A total eclipse is very rare and this one is expected to draw huge crowds. At 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds, Kentucky has the longest eclipse duration, making it even more attractive as a viewing destination.
Western Kentucky counties in the prime viewing zone (Paducah, Hopkinsville, Cadiz, and Princeton) are bracing for more than 100,000 visitors starting about three days before the eclipse. The rest of the region, including our service area, is preparing for fewer guests but lots of traffic as visitors travel to and from the total eclipse zone.