Following periods of extended service interruption, the advantages provided by load diversity are often lost. The term cold load pickup refers to the energization of the loads associated with a circuit or substation following an extended interruption during which much of the diversity normally encountered in power systems is lost.
For example, if a feeder suffers an outage, interrupting all customers on the feeder during a particularly cold day, the homes and businesses will cool to levels below the individual thermostat settings.
This situation eliminates the diversity normally experienced, where only a fraction of the heating will be required to operate at any given time.
Once power is restored, the heating at all customer locations served by the feeder will attempt to operate to bring the building temperatures back to levels near the thermostat settings.
The load experienced by the feeder following reenergization can be far in excess of the design loading due to lack of load diversity.
Cold load pickup can result in a number of adverse power system reactions. Individual service transformers can become overloaded under cold load pickup conditions, resulting in loss of life and possible failure due to overheating.
Feeder load levels can exceed protective device ratings=settings, resulting in customer interruptions following initial service restoration.