Northeast power grids coping with heatwave

Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:42pm EDT
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By Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Power grid operators in the Northeast on Friday said they have enough resources to meet high demand as consumers crank up air-conditioners during a brutal heatwave, but urged steps to conserve electricity.

The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and watches for cities from the Midwest to the East Coast, with temperatures expected to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in many places.

Power companies across the region warned that heavy electricity demand could stress some power lines and generating facilities, possibly leaving some customers in the dark temporarily.

PJM, the biggest power grid in the United States, and the Midwest ISO, the second biggest, this week both broke peak usage records set in 2006 before the recession cut demand for electricity.

PJM, serving 58 million people in all or parts of 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states and the District of Columbia, said consumers used a record 158,450 megawatts on Thursday, breaking the record of 158,258 MW set in August 2006.

"PJM and our members plan and prepare year-round to handle days like this to ensure a seamless power supply for the 58 million consumers in our region," said Michael Kormos, PJM senior vice president - Operations.

The Midwest ISO, which serves more than 40 million people in all or parts of 12 Midwest states and Manitoba in Canada, said consumers used a record 103,975 MW on Wednesday, breaking the old record of 103,246 MW set in July 2006.

In New York City, Consolidated Edison reduced voltage in a few neighborhoods due to failed equipment on Thursday night. Con Edison fixed the equipment and ended the brownouts Friday morning.   Continued...

<p>Parking attendants stand outside the Javits Center in New York July 20, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>