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Power Surges Frustrate Homeowner

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SMITHFIELD — All it takes is one lightning strike to cause a power surge in your house -- and thunderstorms happen all the time during spring and summer. If the surge is powerful enough, various appliances can be "fried" internally. But a man in Johnston County says he has power surges all year long.

Andy Currin isn't blaming the weather, he blames the power company. He says he turns to his generator more often than he'd like because he can't rely on CP&L, his electric company.

"It should never go out but it stays out down here constantly," Currin says.

That's just the beginning of Currin's problems. He says the power surges he gets when his power goes back on have destroyed a number of his appliances over the past 11 years.

He enumerates them: "Two microwave ovens, one stereo, melted an answering machine, one vcr and a $750 water pump"

CP&L says it is trying to solve the problems in the Currin home -- such as knocking down trees near local power lines. But the problem now is a breakdown in the lines of communication.

"Unfortunately what happened in this case was that the work our folks had been doing did not get transmitted to the customer service coordinator who was helping him," admits CP&L spokesman Mark Stinneford. "So that may have contributed to his frustration because he didn't know what we were doing on his behalf."

CP&L also admits it failed to tell Currin about another way it might solve his appliance problems. For $7 a month a surge protection device can be put outside your home.

"But your major motor-driven appliances, really expensive things like your refrigerator, your air conditioner and your heat pump and furnace, need to be covered by something like this," according to Julie Beauvais, CP&L's manager of marketing communications.

Currin says now it's up to CP&L to solve his surge problems.

"I have paid for surge protectors that go in this house. I have paid for four additional 8-foot ground rods that CP&L wants me to put in here. I'm not paying another dime for nothing to go in here," Currin declares.

Out of frustration, Currin has contacted the state utilities commission about the situation.

CP&L points out that surges don't always come from electric lines; they can come through phone and cable hookups as well.