UPDATE 4-Heatwave causes New York brownouts as power use spikes

Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:50pm EDT

 * Latest voltage reduction affects 97,000 customers
 * New York ISO could break power use record Friday
 (Updates with Manhattan, Staten Island brownout)
 NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - A brutal heatwave is causing
brownouts as homes and businesses in New York City and
Westchester County crank up their air conditioners, likely
pushing New York power usage to a new all-time record on
 Initial data on the website of the New York state grid
operator indicated power consumption may reach New York's
all-time peak-hour record of 33,939 megawatts set in 2006.
 Power companies across the U.S. Northeast, including
Consolidated Edison (ED.N), said they had enough electricity to
meet the demand, but warned heavy usage would stress some power
lines and generating facilities, which could leave some
customers in the dark temporarily.
 That is what happened in the New York City area to Con
Edison's 3.2 million customers.
 The company had to reduce voltage on some equipment, called
a brownout, for more than 100,000 customers in neighborhoods in
Westchester and Queens overnight, followed by 37,000 customers
in Manhattan and 60,000 customers on Staten Island Friday
 The company reduced the voltage in both areas as a
precaution to protect equipment and maintain service as crews
work to repair the problem.
 Customers do not lose power in a voltage reduction. Many
customers do not notice a voltage reduction which primarily
affects things like incandescent lights, hot water heaters and
some motors.
 However, Con Edison reported scattered outages of up to
10,000 customers Friday afternoon, up from 7,600 earlier in the
 The U.S. National Weather Service issued an excessive heat
warning until 10 p.m. Eastern time for the New York City area.
 Temperatures in New York will reach 99 Fahrenheit (37
Celsius) on Friday with the humidity making it feel more like
112 F, according to weather forecaster AccuWeather.com.
 The heatwave will not break until Sunday when the mercury
returns to more normal levels in the 80s and low 90s F.
 Con Edison said usage peaked at 12,710 megawatts on
Thursday. That was shy of the all-time record of 13,141 MW set
in August 2006 before the economic recession weakened demand.
 The company said demand could top the record Friday.
 U.S./Canada peak power demand records      [ID:nN1E76L08Q]
 Con Ed meets NYC demand, imposes brownouts [ID:nN1E76L02T]
 Massive heatwave spreads across U.S.       [ID:nN1E76K1JV]
 U.S. Midwest breaks power usage record     [ID:nN1E76K0LQ]
 During the voltage reduction, Con Edison asked customers in
the affected areas not to use appliances such as washers,
dryers, air conditioners and other energy-intensive equipment
and to turn off lights and televisions when not needed.
 Con Edison urged all consumers to conserve power to help
keep the lights on and air conditioners humming.
 Con Edison and other energy service providers in the state
and across the U.S. Northeast activated some of their demand
response programs, which pay consumers to reduce power usage
during peak times when needed.
 Customers can reduce power usage by turning up the air
conditioner thermostat, turning off lights, elevators and other
electrical equipment, and for those with backup generators on
site, producing their own electricity.
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino and Eileen O'Grady in Houston;
Editing by Alden Bentley)

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