July 16, 2012 / 2:33 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. Midwest & Northeast power cos ready for heat wave

* Temperatures to reach 100 degrees in Chicago
    * Demand high but not expected to reach record levels
    * Con Edison continues to talk with union workers

    July 16 (Reuters) - The power grids in the U.S. Midwest and
Northeast said they have more than enough resources to keep the
lights on this week as homes and businesses crank up their air
conditioners to escape another brutal heat wave.
    The grid operators said power usage would be high but was
not expected to break any demand records.
    High temperatures in Chicago were expected to reach 96
degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) on Monday and 100 on Tuesday
before dropping to near normal levels in the mid 80s on
Wednesday, according to AccuWeather.com.
    In New York, the mercury was expected to hit 92 degrees on
Monday, 95 on Tuesday and 94 on Wednesday before falling to near
normal levels in the 80s on Thursday, AccuWeather.com said.
    New York power company Consolidated Edison Inc, which
locked out its 8,000 member union workforce on July 1 due to a
contract dispute, asked its 3.2 million customers in New York
City and Westchester County to conserve power during the heat
wave but had not imposed any voltage reductions.
    During the last two heat waves that baked the Big Apple this
summer, Con Edison reduced the voltage, also known as a brown
out, in several neighborhoods to take the load off the system
and allow workers to fix heat stressed equipment.
 
    The company said past voltage reductions had nothing to do
with the lockout, noting the company reduced the voltage before
the lockout and after. The company and union were expected to
meet again later Monday.
    The two regions where the power usage will get closest to
past demand records this week were New York and the Midwest.
    The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO),
which operates the power grid in all or parts of 11 U.S. Midwest
states and the province of Manitoba in Canada, forecast demand
would approach 96,600 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday, which is close
to the system's all-time peak of 98,526 MW in July 2011.
    The New York ISO (NYISO), which operates the grid in New
York State, forecast demand Tuesday would approach 31,900 MW,
which is still below the state's all-time peak of 33,939 MW in
August 2006 before the recession of the late 2000s cut mostly
industrial and commercial demand for power.
    One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.

    CONSERVATION URGED
    To take some of the stress off the system, some grid
operators have already asked generators and transmission owners
to put off unnecessary maintenance and some local utilities,
like Con Edison, have called on consumers to conserve power
during the heat wave.
    Later in the day as temperatures rise, some utilities may
also call on customers who signed up for demand response
programs to reduce power usage.
    Demand response programs pay consumers to cut back on
electric use during peak times or when power prices are high by
shutting off unnecessary lights, elevators and other equipment,
reducing air conditioning and even turning on backup generators
to reduce the amount of power they take from the grid.
    The biggest power companies in the regions baking in the
latest heat wave include units of Duke Energy, Exelon
Corp, FirstEnergy Corp, American Electric Power
Co Inc, Xcel Energy Inc, Con Edison, National
Grid PLC and Northeast Utilities.

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