Power plant hosts open house

Families learned how the many different utilities in Tallahassee are operated at the Electric Power Plant Open House on Sunday.

Tents and tables were set up all around the Arvah B. Hopkins Power Plant with demonstrations on how to save money on utility bills. Guests maneuvered through the stations, soaking up the information offered.

Vicki O’Neil, gas systems support administrator, said the event was for customers and everyone interested in how the plant operates.

“It’s a celebration of public power week and public natural gas week and customer service week,” O’Neil said. “It’s an open house to let everybody come out and tour the efficient power plant, which is powered by natural gas.”

Since 1990, this family event has attracted people from all across the Tallahassee area.

“There are lots of events here and demonstrations for all the kids,” O’Neil said. “It’s a great family event and lots of information about good city programs.”

O’Neil’s natural gas demonstration informed people on its benefits.

“Natural gas is the only utility that’s a choice for our customers,” she said. “So we live and die by customer service. We like to get anybody that’s interested in energy efficiency or maybe shaving some money off their utility bill.

“Natural gas is the cheapest energy in the Tallahassee market. We’re out here to demonstrate that and show people these great appliances and give them good information.”

There were just as many children in attendance as there were adults who enjoyed the hands-on demonstrations.

The open house also provided information on gas leaks, water leaks, pipe bursts and pest control. Nikki Buggs brought her son because his science teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary offered the class extra credit for attending.

As her son sat eating his popcorn, Buggs explained that she came to the event for him but ended up leaving with a little knowledge of her own.

“If you ever see a leak or have unwanted animals, there’s a number you can call,” Buggs said. “I didn’t know that.”

She was dealing with a mole in her yard but failed to solve the situation herself. After attending the open house, she now knows her next move.

In addition, the city of Tallahassee’s utilities, Tallahassee Fire Department and the Tallahassee Police Department set up a few demonstrations of their own.

Kids looked in awe as a K-9 officer sat obediently. Adults and children appreciated getting an inside look at TPD’s helicopter and seeing the fire department use hydraulic rescue tools such as the “jaws of life” on two actual wrecked vehicles.

Delandford Walter, who attended the event, said he was happy he made it to the demonstration.

“That was different for somebody like me who was just going to sit around the house and drink some beers and watch the game,” Walter said. “This was perfect. From seeing how they save people off the cable and seeing the fire department, the SWAT, the whole nine yards, it was worth coming.”