June 22, 2010 / 8:48 PM / 7 years ago

US East has power to meet soaring heat wave demand

  * Temperatures to top 90 F (32 C) along East Coast
  * PJM will likely set a June record
  * NYC and Pennsylvania urge power conservation
  NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) - Grid operators across the eastern half of the United States expect to have more than enough electricity to meet soaring power demand this week as consumers crank up their air conditioners to escape the summer's first heat wave.
 "We expect to have enough power to meet the peak demand this week," said Ray Dotter at PJM, the nation's biggest grid operator overseeing parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.
 To help ensure continued reliability, PJM however did ask its members to avoid conducting unnecessary maintenance on their generation and transmission facilities during the hot weather but did not take any steps that customers would notice, Dotter said.
 Temperatures this week in major metropolitan cities along the East Coast from Florida to New York stretching as far west as Chicago will top 90 Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), according to weather forecasts.
 PJM forecast demand would reach 124,000 megawatts on Tuesday, 132,000 MW on Wednesday and 129,000 MW on Thursday before dropping to 119,000 MW on Friday when high temperatures return to more normal levels in the 80s F for the weekend.
 If demand tops 132,000 MW on Wednesday as forecast, it would break the June demand record and easily beat last summer's peak of 126,805 MW when temperatures in PJM were relatively mild.
 In May, PJM forecast the grid would have 162,000 MW of generation available this summer to meet a forecast peak of 135,750 MW, which is still well below the grid's all-time record of 144,644 MW set in 2006 during a brutal heat wave.
 Several power companies and state agencies, including New York City's electric company Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N) and the Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission, have already urged consumers to cut back on power consumption to avoid potential power shortages.
 And the hot weather is not limited to the East Coast.
 ERCOT in Texas forecast power demand would near 60,000 MW on Tuesday with mercury in several Lone Star cities topping 100 F (38 C).
 In May, the Texas grid operator forecast it would have more than 66,000 MW of generation available this summer to meet a forecast peak of over 64,000 MW. The all-time peak demand in ERCOT was 62,397 MW set in July 2009.
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)   

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