Electricity demand in the East surged Tuesday near levels not seen since the summer of 2006. The power grid has so far been up to the task.
With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees in cities from New York to Washington, utilities and grid operators saw power output close in on the records set in August 2006. No widespread outages have been reported, although electricity demand typically jumps between 5 and 6 o'clock.
New Yorkers are expected to push electricity demand in the state close to the record of 33,939 megawatts, set on Aug. 2, 2006.
"We're very weather sensitive," said Ken Klapp, spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, which oversees the state's electricity grid. "With the high temperatures and humidities, it drives the loads up."
Consolidated Edison, Inc., which serves parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said customers pushed electricity demand near 13,000 megawatts, but levels stayed below a company record of 13,141 megawatts. One megawatt is enough electricity to serve 800 to 1,000 homes.
The surge in demand came as temperatures set records for the day. New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. broke records. Boston, Washington and Newark, N.J., also saw temperatures above 100 degrees.
The heat wave won't break for a few days. That could pressure the grid further, as more people and businesses crank up the air conditioning.
Utilities on the East Coast said they were able to handle the extra demand in part because of billions of dollars spent on new technology and other improvements to the grid.
Valley Forge, Pa.-based PJM Interconnection, for example, said it has devoted nearly $15 billion since 2000 to improvements like new transmission lines, new wires on existing lines, new transformers and new components.
PJM, which operates the largest grid in the U.S., running from Washington to Chicago, estimated that demand climbed close to the record four years ago.
"Hopefully we don't have too many more days in a row with 100-degree temperatures," Dotter said, adding that PJM always encourages users to conserve electricity whenever they can.
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