US Pulls Record Energy During Heat Wave

by | Jul 25, 2011

The extreme heat wave that swept through the Midwest and has now moved to the northeast has massively increased the demand for electricity as people turn to their air conditioning for relief from the sweltering temperatures.

Midwestern energy supplier MISO recorded its highest ever demand for electricity on July 20. Demand peaked at 103,975 MW, surpassing the record of 103,246 MW set on July 31, 2006.

And as the weather system moved east on July 22,, PJM Interconnection, which manages the grid transmission system for Washington D.C. and 13 states across the south, Midwest and northeast, recorded its highest ever demand. At 5 p.m. the company recorded peak demand at 158,450 MW of power. The firm’s previous all-time peak demand of 158,258 MW was recorded on August 2, 2006.

One megawatt is roughly enough to power 1,000 homes, PJM says.

“MISO’s real-time operations teams in Carmel, Ind., and St. Paul, Minn., continue to manage these high-loading conditions to keep the system in balance.  This involves staying in constant contact with local balancing authorities and generation owners to confirm operating needs and capabilities in order to maintain excellent grid reliability and market operations,” said Richard Doying, vice president of MISO operations.

Demand has been so high that some suppliers have sent out pleas to customers asking them to reduce their energy usage.

Michigan natural gas and electricity supplier Consumers Energy asked its 1.8 million electricity customers to reduce their power use through the night of July 21, as it feared a surge in demand.

The company blamed increased air conditioning use, resulting from temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. It asked customers to raise the temperature setting on their air conditioner thermostats and avoid using clothes washers and dryers during the night.

And such has been the impact of the heat wave on fuel usage that it buoyed natural gas futures on Wall Street.

The market had been edgy prior to the release of a report on energy storage in which bad results were expected, but demand for fuel kept natural gas prices higher than expected, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Photo credit: John Ramspott

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