Power Outage Leaves Thousands in the Dark in Panama City Beach

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The blackout meant businesses on Thomas Drive had to close early on one of the busiest days of the year. Tony Johnson owns Mr. Surf's on Thomas Drive. He says Monday's power outage cost him thousands of dollars in business.

"We go down the beach and the beaches are packed. It was one of our busiest days yesterday. I know that we lost a couple thousand dollars, and that is frustrating," said Johnson.

Johnson's not alone in suffering financially from the power loss, which started about 3 p.m. Monday. Businesses on the eastern end of Thomas Drive had to close early because they didn't have power. People who live on North Lagoon Drive and South Lagoon Drive were also without power.

A mechanical failure at a substation, combined with extremely high demand, thanks to the holiday weekend, is what led to the power being out till after 10 p.m. Monday.

"When capacity is critical like that, you're at high demand you can only bring back a little small sections at a time. It's kind of like power surge," said Lynn Erickson, spokesperson for Gulf Power.

With so much development in Panama City Beach, this kind of problem is bound to happen again on peak demand weekends like July 4th unless upgrades to the power system are made. That's what Gulf Power says it's doing. In fact, a fourth substation for the beach is coming online very soon.

"That's mainly what we can do, upgrade switches, upgrade breakers and keep up with capacity," said Erickson.

"Gulf Power should let their customers know that are affected, especially the big business people, especially the areas that are affected, somehow, a letter or something."

Gulf Power reps say the problems have been resolved and no outages are anticipated any time soon. If you're hit with a power outage, the best thing you can do is turn off things like your air conditioner and computers and slowly turn them on once the power is back on so you don't overload the system and cause it to shut down again.