July 18 (Reuters) - New York State’s power grid operator forecast peak electricity usage on Thursday would break a record set in 2006, as consumers crank up their air conditioners on the fifth day of a brutal heatwave.
The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which operates the grid, expects peak demand will reach 34,450 megawatts Thursday. That would break the current record of 33,939 MW set in August 2006, before industrial and commercial businesses reduced power usage during the recession.
One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.
“Due to the performance of the generation fleet, demand response providers and strong coordination with New York’s transmission owners, we expect to meet Thursday’s peak demand and maintain operating reserve requirements,” NYISO spokesman Ken Klapp said.
So far, the state’s utilities and NYISO have not had to take any major steps to keep the lights on and air conditioners humming during this heatwave.
They have asked consumers to conserve power, deferred non-essential equipment maintenance and activated demand response programs to reduce energy usage in the New York City area, but there have been no widespread blackouts - just some scattered outages.
Temperatures in New York City, the nation’s biggest metropolitan area, are expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 C) Thursday and 94 F on Friday before thunderstorms break the heatwave on Saturday, weather forecaster AccuWeather.com said.
So far this week, the mercury has reached 90 F on Sunday, 94 F on Monday and Tuesday and 97 F on Wednesday.
On Thursday, NYISO said it activated the demand response program for the entire state due to the geographic scope of the heatwave, not just for the New York City area as on Monday to Wednesday.
The grid operator said its demand response programs can reduce power usage by more than 1,250 MW.
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.
The biggest power companies in New York include units of Consolidated Edison Inc, National Grid Plc, Iberdrola SA, Entergy Corp, TransCanada Corp and NRG Energy Inc.