* Power grids do not expect demand to break records
* Some demand response programs activated
* Temperatures to reach near-record levels in mid 90s F
By Scott DiSavino
June 20 A heat wave blanketing the U.S.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on the first day of summer forced
utilities to ask customers to conserve electricity and led to
brownouts in parts of New York City.
Electrical grid operators said they expected to have more
than enough power resources to meet soaring demand on Wednesday
and Thursday in New York, New England and the 13 states served
by regional transmission organization PJM.
The New York grid operator revised its power consumption
forecast for Thursday, saying its new forecast of 33,700
megawatts would exceed last summer's peak of 33,295 MW.
Temperatures in New York City, the biggest metropolitan area
in the United States, were expected to reach a near-record high
of 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.6 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday, 97
degrees on Thursday and 92 on Friday before dropping to the 80s
over the weekend. The National Weather Service issued a heat
advisory until Thursday night.
Average highs in New York at this time of year are about 81.
New York's Consolidated Edison Inc reduced electric
voltage on some equipment in Queens and Brooklyn Wednesday
The reduction, called a brownout, is used to protect
equipment and maintain service while crews worked on the
problem, the power distributor said in a release.
Con Edison asked customers to conserve electricity and turn
off nonessential equipment. Customers don't lose power in a
voltage reduction, which primarily affects incandescent lights,
hot water heaters and some motors.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the New York
Independent System Operator activated demand response programs
in the city and parts of the state Wednesday afternoon to curb
PJM issued a hot-weather alert for both days, telling
generators and transmission owners to put off unnecessary
maintenance on their plants and power lines until after the heat
PJM is the biggest power grid in the United States, serving
60 million people in much of 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states.
Regional grid operator ISO New England also said it expected
normal operating conditions and asked transmission owners and
generators to delay unnecessary work, spokeswoman Marcia
Blomberg told Reuters.
ISO New England also said it was aware of maintenance on
Spectra Energy Corp's Algonquin Gas Transmission natural
gas pipeline, but added that the power grid was still operating
under normal conditions.
For competitive reasons, the ISO could not say whether any
power plants had their gas supplies interrupted.
Spectra said on its website that the maintenance was
affecting some interruptible customers who typically pay less
for gas with the understanding that service may be cut at
The PJM grid did not expect to activate demand response or
energy conservation programs, spokesman Ray Dotter said, but
noted some local utilities or power marketers might ask
customers to reduce their power use.
In Pennsylvania, utility regulators urged consumers to cut
back on energy usage over the next couple of days.
NYPA said it had activated a demand-response program called
Peak Reduction to reduce demand in New York City by 30 megawatts
Wednesday for as long as six hours.
NYPA's government customers will lower electric use at about
80 locations in the five boroughs, including subway stations,
public schools and police facilities, according to a release.
NYPA also said it might activate the program again Thursday.
Demand-response programs like NYPA's cause minor
inconveniences - hot subway cars, longer waits for elevators and
darker office lobbies - but utilities say they keep the lights
on and air conditioners humming for everyone as well as keep
power prices from climbing too high.
Besides reducing usage, demand-response participants can run
onsite power generators to take the load off the grid.
Power prices in PJM, the most active hub in the United
States, jumped about 70 percent on Wednesday to the $150s per
megawatt hour for Thursday delivery. New England prices jumped
almost 80 percent to the $170s for Thursday.
RECORDS TO BE TESTED
The New York ISO, which operates the state's power grid,
said Wednesday's demand was approaching 31,500 MW and raised
Thursday's projection by 800 MW to 33,700 MW which would exceed
last summer's record and approach the all-time record of 33,939
MW set in August 2006.
PJM expects demand for power to peak at just under 150,000
MW on Wednesday and a little higher Thursday, well below the
all-time high of 163,760 MW set during a heat wave last July.
ISO New England, which operates the grid in the six New
England states, forecast peak demand 22,760 MW on Wednesday and
25,320 MW on Thursday. That is well below the all-time high in
New England of 28,130 MW, also set in August 2006.
The biggest utilities and generators in the Northeast
include units of Illinois-based Exelon Corp, Ohio-based
FirstEnergy Corp and American Electric Power Co Inc
, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp and New
York-based Con Edison Inc.