UPDATE 1-U.S. Northeast has enough power for 4th day of heat wave

Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:25pm EDT
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By Scott DiSavino

July 17 (Reuters) - Power companies and regional grid operators in the U.S. Northeast said they have enough electricity to keep air conditioners humming on the fourth day of a brutal heat wave.

But despite the lingering heat, the region's utilities and power grid operators have not had to take any major steps to keep the lights on.

They have asked consumers to conserve power, deferred non-essential equipment maintenance and activated demand response programs to reduce energy usage in some areas, but there have been no widespread blackouts - just some scattered outages.

On Wednesday, New York State's grid operator again activated programs to reduce electric use for a third day in a row.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which operates the state's grid, said its demand response programs can reduce power usage by more than 1,250 megawatts. One megawatt can power up to 1,000 homes.

Demand response program participants are compensated for reducing electricity use - and could be penalized for not doing so - by raising air conditioner thermostats and by turning off unnecessary lights and other equipment, including elevators. Putting on-site generators into use also reduces the amount of power needed from the grid.

Temperatures in New York City, the nation's biggest metropolitan area, reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 C) on Monday and Tuesday, and are expected to remain around 94-95 F through Friday before thunderstorms break the heat wave on Saturday, weather forecaster AccuWeather.com said.   Continued...