Heat wave stresses US Mid-Atlantic power grid again

* Power companies urge energy conservation due heat

* Peak demand will not top 2006 records

* Con Ed working to restore power to 6,300 customers

NEW YORK, July 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Electric companies urged
consumers to keep cutting back on energy use on Wednesday as a
record-breaking heat wave continued to grip the Mid-Atlantic
states, straining power plants and distribution lines and
leaving some customers without power.

Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N: ) of New York said it had
restored power to about 18,700 customers in the metropolitan
area over the past 24 hours, but still had 6,300 homes and
businesses suffering in the triple-digit heat without service.
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Forecasters predicted no relief from the scorching heat on
Wednesday. The mercury in New York, Philadelphia and Washington
could reach 100 degrees F (about 38 degrees C) for a second
consecutive day before dropping to the low 90s on Thursday.
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Despite the heat, which on Tuesday set records for the date
in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, and many other areas, the
region’s grid operators forecast peak electricity demand on
Wednesday would not break record highs set during a brutal
heatwave in 2006.

Utilities said the region had enough power to keep air
conditioners humming even with the mercury returning to the
triple digits from New York to the Carolinas.

Still, authorities were taking precautions to prevent any
disruptions to service.

The state-owned New York Power Authority on Wednesday again
activated its demand response program, which pays large
business and government customers, such as Citibank (C.N: ) and
New York City, to cut back on energy usage.

Con Edison asked businesses and government offices in New
York to conserve energy by shutting nonessential lights and
discretionary equipment, such as extra elevators or escalators,
turning off pumps for ornamental fountains, limiting the
cooling of buildings, and using emergency generators to offset
some of the electricity they take from the power grid.

On Tuesday night, Con Ed imposed a voltage reduction, or
brown out, of up to 8 percent in parts of Brooklyn and Queens
to allow workers to fix overheated cables supplying power to
several neighborhoods.

PEAK DEMAND RECORDS TO SURVIVE

While the utilities struggle to keep up with the demand,
the regional grid operators, which oversee several local power
companies, do not expect to see their 2006 records fall.

PJM, operator of the biggest grid in the United States,
forecast peak demand Wednesday would fall short of the all-time
record because the heat was baking only the eastern part of its
territory.

“To break the 2006 peak, it really needs to be hot
everywhere, not just in the East,” PJM spokesman Ray Dotter
said Tuesday.

PJM’s power usage reached 136,398 megawatts on Tuesday, the
highest since 2007, and was expected to climb even higher to
about 137,800 MW Wednesday afternoon.

That was still well short of the grid’s all-time record of
144,644 MW set in August 2006. when a brutal heat wave
blanketed the entire system.

PJM serves more than 51 million people in all or parts of
Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New
Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.

The New York Independent System Operator, which operates
the state grid, said demand Tuesday reached 33,452 MW, easily
beating the 2009 peak, but just short of the all-time record of
33,939 MW set in August 2006. For Wednesday, the ISO forecast
demand of just over 31,000 MW.

ISO New England, which operates the region’s six-state
power grid, forecast demand Wednesday would reach 27,000 MW for
a second day in a row, beating last year’s peak, but still
about 1,000 MW shy of the August 2006 record of 28,130 MW.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Walter Bagley)

Heat wave stresses US Mid-Atlantic power grid again