By Scott DiSavino
July 15 (Reuters) - Power grid operators and utilities in the U.S. Northeast said they had enough electricity to keep air conditioners humming this week as a brutal heat wave blankets the region, but asked homes and businesses to conserve energy.
PJM Interconnection, the biggest power grid in the nation, said it does “not expect major problems” even though power usage is expected to top 150,000 megawatts (MW) each day this week. That is still well below the grid’s all time record of more than 163,000 MW set in 2011.
One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes in PJM.
In New York, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) activated its demand response programs to reduce electricity usage in the New York City area.
Participants in demand response programs cut back on electricity use by raising air conditioner thermostats, turning off unnecessary lights and other equipment such as elevators and escalators, and if available, running on-site generators to reduce the amount of power needed from the grid.
Temperatures in New York City, the biggest metro area in the United States, will reach 94 degrees F (34 C) on Monday, 95 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 92 on Friday and 90 on Saturday before thunderstorms break the heat wave Saturday evening, according to weather forecaster AccuWeather.com.
Consolidated Edison Inc, New York City’s power company, asked customers to conserve power as forecast demand this week approaches the utility’s all-time record of 13,189 MW set in July 2011.
For the state, the NYISO forecast peak demand would reach 33,300 MW on Monday afternoon, which is close to the grid’s all-time record of 33,939 MW set in 2006 before industrial and commercial companies reduced power usage during the economic recession.
Power traders said next-day prices for Tuesday reached over $110 in New York’s Hudson Valley and PJM’s Western Hub. That compares with prices for Monday in the $60s in PJM and a clearing price in the $70s in New York.
PJM issued a hot weather alert to its transmission and generation members on Monday, asking them to prepare facilities and workers for the heat and to defer any unnecessary maintenance on transmission equipment and power plants.
PJM issued the alert to all utilities in its territory except Exelon Corp’s Commonwealth Edison in Chicago where temperatures are cooler.
PJM operates a grid serving 61 million people in 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states and the District of Columbia.
In New England, ISO New England, the grid operator of that six state region, forecast power usage would top 27,000 MW on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but remain below the system’s all-time record of over 28,000 MW set in 2006.
The biggest power companies in PJM include units of Duke Energy Corp, Exelon, FirstEnergy Corp, American Electric Power Co Inc, Dominion Resources Inc and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.
The biggest power companies in New York include units of Con Edison, National Grid Plc, Iberdrola SA, Entergy Corp, TransCanada Corp and NRG Energy Inc .
The biggest power companies in New England include units of National Grid, Northeast Utilities, Iberdrola, NextEra Energy Inc, Dominion, Entergy and Exelon.