Electricity use at record highs in Northeast, prices fly up

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, July 24, 2001 — Power consumption records fell Monday and Tuesday as heat and humidity drove electricity demand to record highs throughout New England, in the mid-Atlantic states, and Ontario.

Energy prices soared to $1,000 Mw-hr Tuesday in New England, while the independent system operator called for curtailment of 175 Mw interruptible load and public conservation.

ISO New England issued a request for bids for extra power throughout the day ranging from 300-500 Mw, blaming hot weather in the region. Temperatures were forecast to be above 90° F.

The ISO urged residents to reduce electricity use at home and work, turning off unnecessary lights, appliances, computers, and other equipment. Tuesday’s load was a projected 23,650 Mw, but had already reached 23,685 Mw — higher than the system summer design, said spokesman Craig Kazin.

Imports of 300-400 Mw were available from New York, “which is doing slightly better,” Kazin said. Canada is also exporting power to the region. Altogether ISO New England was anticipating about 2,700 Mw of imports.

Kazin said the ISO doesn’t anticipate “going any deeper” into its emergency protocols, but it will be reviewing bids that exceed existing price caps. He said the region is expected to set a record for demand Tuesday afternoon.

“Humidity really drives the show,” he said.

Meanwhile, PJM Interconnection LLC, the independent system operator for the mid-Atlantic states, also issued a power alert Tuesday. A spokeswoman said it was a “preparedness” alert, telling member to expect high use and high demand Tuesday.

Cinergy Corp., Cincinnati, Ohio, said customers of its operating companies set a record peak demand for electricity of 10,984 Mw Monday breaking the old record of 10,873 Mw set July 22, 1999. A new record was also set in Cinergy’s Indiana service area where demand by customers of PSI Energy reached 5,999 Mw, breaking the old record of 5,848 Mw set July 30, 1999.

Records falling
Cinergy reported it was able to meet customer demands with its own supply and planned purchases from other regional electric suppliers. Power supplies on the regional power grid continue to be adequate to meet customer needs, it said.

Hot, humid weather also prompted Detroit Edison customers to use a record amount of electricity Monday. The record-setting hourly usage was 11,288,000 kw of electricity. The previous record of 11,018,000 kw was set June 10, 1999.

Detroit Edison, a unit of DTE Energy Co., said it has adequate supplies of electricity to meet its customers’ needs this summer. The utility in December forecasted a peak demand of 12,375,000 kw in southeastern Michigan this summer, a 10% increase from last summer’s peak, which was cooler than normal.

Detroit Edison’s plan to meet record demand calls for a total of 13,071,000 kw of supply resources to be available this summer, including a 15% reserve margin to cover unexpected loss of generation.

Ontario’s electricity demand hit another all-time record summer peak Monday, the second time this summer the record has been broken. The 20-minute peak of 23,722 Mw was reached at 1:10 p.m., topping the previous summer record of 23,630 Mw set June 27, 2001.

“We were on track for setting a record higher than even our heaviest winter demand,” said Kevin Dove, of the Independent Electricity Market Operator (IMO). “We’re expecting record power use to continue into the week, due to the forecast for more heat and humidity,” said Dove.

He said Ontario has power to spare and expects to serve the heavy demand. The IMO is responsible for predicting the electricity needs of 11 million Ontarians. It manages the flow of electricity to local distribution utilities and major wholesale customers in Ontario and is responsible for developing and operating Ontario’s new competitive wholesale electricity marketplace.