Businesses Concerned Over Planned Ohio Edison Outage

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Businesses along Ohio Works Drive say that they risk losing valuable time and money because of a planned electrical outage by Ohio Edison in that area scheduled for Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“They are shutting down an entire street of manufacturers,” said Mike Garvey, president of M7 Technologies and Center Street Technologies, both of which are located on Ohio Works. “My employees will lose a day’s wages, while our customers’ risk profile goes up since we might have some of their equipment in our shop that we can’t move out.”

Garvey said that he received a voicemail from Ohio Edison, a division of FirstEnergy, at 3:08 p.m. last Friday informing him that it planned to shut off power to the entire area in order to perform upgrades that will take all day on Dec. 10.  

“They’ve been working on this for months and only gave us less than seven days notice prior to the outage,” he said.

Garvey said that such measures add great risk for manufacturers – especially those who are struggling to keep up with orders or serve an already tight supply chain.

Managers from Ohio Edison told Garvey that there was little they could do about the situation and claim there are schedule requirements that the utility must meet, he said. 

Garvey said the utility could complete the work gradually and in shorter intervals instead of doing it in a single day.  Or, Ohio Edison could have opted to perform the upgrades on a weekend so it doesn’t disrupt businesses for an entire workday, he said.

M7 Technologies performs precision measurement and manufacturing and re-manufacturing services for industrial equipment, and Garvey noted that the company’s operation depends on a steady source of power to its 42,000-square-foot plant. 

Center Street Technologies specializes in large-scale additive manufacturing. 

“If we have a customer’s parts here, we won’t have power for cranes to load them and send them out,” Garvey said.  Furthermore, any power outage would shut down the company’s servers, making it impossible for employees to work remotely, he said.

Ohio Works Drive is home to major manufacturers and distributors, including VAM USA, a pipe threading operation and subsidiary of Vallourec; GLI Pool Products; Metalcrafts Inc.; Graybar Electric; and Induction Professionals. 

Ohio Edison spokeswoman Lauren Siburkis said about 11 customers in the Ohio Works Drive vicinity would be impacted by the outage.

The outage is necessary in order to construct a backup power line that will help “prevent and minimize” the length of future power outages. 

“When the full project is completed, the work will offer a backup power feed that will help keep the lights on for customers if wires or equipment on their regular line are damaged or need to be taken out of service,” she said. 

Siburkis said that Ohio Edison would use most of its line crew to complete the project in a single day, which actually would provide the least amount of disruption to businesses. 

“Due to the vast resources needed to complete this project in a short timeframe, we determined the work would be performed safely and most efficiently during the week,” she said. “Completing this project in one day has the least impact on businesses in the area because there are several factors that go into when a planned outage can be performed, including the weather.”

The Ohio Works Drive project was scheduled around the company’s largest industrial customer in that area, VAM USA, which the utility says will be most affected by the outage. 

“We notified all impacted customers about this work so they could plan ahead and make any necessary adjustments to their operations,” she said.  “We realize there is never a convenient time for a power outage; however, we are confident this work will help prevent and minimize the length of future, unexpected outages.”

Other businesses say they’ve had to put in longer hours this week in order to meet production deadlines in the face of the outage.

“We’ve been working 10-hour days to keep production going,” said Mary Ann Troy, office manager at Metalcrafts Inc. “We’re a small fabricator and this is shutting us down. No lights, no heat, no equipment.”

Troy says the outage could cost the company money. “If you’re lucky enough to have a generator, you could continue working.”

M7 Technology’s Garvey said that there should be a more open, easier way for the private sector and utilities to cooperate when it comes to these issues.

“We’re ratepayers, and this is extremely heavy handed,” he said. “If this happens to us, it could happen to anyone around here. We have to find a way so the utilities can cooperate.”

Pictured: Businesses along Ohio Works Drive say a planned power outage by Ohio Edison could put them at risk of losing valuable time and money.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.