Obviously, the nitwits who run Appalachian Power failed to prepare for the ice storm that knocked out power to some 12,000 customers in Southwestern Virginia Tuesday night, including 5,000 homes in Floyd County — about a third of our population.

At 9:30 last night, AEP’s web site reported 4,800 homes without power in the county. At 5:00 this morning, the number was — surprise — 4,800, meaning the electric utility that wants to increase rates to astronomical levels didn’t accomplish a damn thing overnight.

I’m not surprised. I saw a bunch of AEP’s contractors, an outfit called Pike Electric Corporation, eating at Hardees in Floyd last night and acting more like they were on vacation than dealing with an emergency that has left thousands of people without heat, water or lights in subfreezing temperatures. Some of us are lucky enough to have backup generators. Too many others, however, do not.

I talked with one of the workers and he admitted he and his crew had never been in the area before and got lost trying to find locations of downed power lines and outages. Typical AEP: Hire outside contractors who don’t know the area and increase the time it will take to restore power (now estimated to be 6 p.m. Friday).

As ice storms go, Tuesday’s was a lightweight winter event. Unfortunately, AEP is even more of a lightweight when it comes to being prepared. AEP should stand for Always Erratic Power.