July 16, 2012 / 8:04 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-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 reduces voltage in parts of Manhattan

    By Scott DiSavino
    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 customers 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.
    "Demand will be high but will likely not even reach the
level we forecast for this summer. We have adequate resources
and are not expecting any issues," Paula DuPont-Kidd, a
spokeswoman at PJM, the biggest power grid in the United States,
told Reuters.
    PJM serves more than 60 million customers in 13 U.S.
Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states and the District of Columbia.
    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, reduced the voltage, also known as a brown
out, in parts of Manhattan to take the load off the system and
allow workers to fix heat stressed equipment.
    The company said it was alright for the homes and businesses
in the affected areas to continue running their air
conditioners, but asked all of its 3.2 million customers in New
York City and Westchester County to use power wisely.
    Con Edison also reduced the voltage in several other
neighborhoods during the last two heat waves to bake the Big
Apple so far this summer. 
    The company said voltage reductions had nothing to do with
the lockout, noting the utility reduced the voltage before the
lockout and after. The company and union were expected to meet
again later Monday.
    Three regions expect power usage to approach record breaking
demand levels this week, New York, New England 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.
    ISO New England, which operates the grid in the six New
England states, forecast demand would approach 26,800 MW on
Tuesday, still shy of its 28,130 MW record set in August 2006.
    For a factbox on record peaks, see 
    One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.
    In addition to the heat, the U.S. Northeast is also dealing
with solar magnetic storms and natural gas restrictions.
    NextEra Energy Inc reduced the output of its
1,247-MW Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire to 68
percent by early Monday from 85 percent early Friday because
solar magnetic activity was affecting its transformer.
    In addition, Spectra Energy said the 1,000-mile
Algonquin Gas Transmission natural gas pipeline restricted
service for some interruptible customers in New England.
    Interruptible customers typically pay less for gas with the
understanding that service may be cut during times of peak
demand. The Algonquin system connects with five major interstate
pipelines, delivering 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas from
supply areas in the Gulf Coast to New England.
    Despite the slight power reduction at the Seabrook reactor
and the natural gas restrictions, ISO New England said power
system conditions were normal Monday afternoon.
    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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