Region Shatters Power Usage Record

By David Chang
|  Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014  |  Updated 8:20 PM EDT
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NBC10's Doug Shimell is live at PJM Interconnection, the electric grid operator for more than 61 million people, where the call to conserve energy has ended.

NBC10, Doug Shimell

NBC10's Doug Shimell is live at PJM Interconnection, the electric grid operator for more than 61 million people, where the call to conserve energy has ended.

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Even with calls to conserve, officials say power usage on Tuesday shattered the record set in 2007.

PJM Interconnect, a Valley Forge, Pa. based company that manages the energy grid for all or part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, broke the record for peak winter electricity twice on Tuesday. By Tuesday morning, electricity use peaked at 138,000 megawatts. By Tuesday night, it peaked at 141,312 MW. The previous peak was 136,675 MW set in 2007.

Just to give you an idea of how much power that is, one megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes.

PJM issued a warning that the system could be overtaxed if energy demand was too high during sub-freezing temperatures on Tuesday. They issued a follow up statement Tuesday night, asking their customers to conserve electricity into Wednesday.

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The grid supplier originally asked customers in its service area to conserve energy from 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday and advised power companies to be prepared to supply emergency electricity. Tuesday night, PJM sent out another appeal, asking consumers to conserve electricity into Wednesday morning.

After breaking the record for power use, Mike Bryson, Executive Director of PJM System Operations, says their bulk electricity price went up from a year ago.

“Prices are [[normally]] in the $250 to $300 mega-watt range,” Bryson said. “The last couple days, particularly yesterday, we were seeing prices that were closer to $1800 a megawatt.”

That likely means your household electricity bill will go up immediately because you used more power and may even go higher later on because the cost of electricity went up as well.

When that electricity cost shows up on your bill depends on when your local utility negotiates their contract with the wholesale power sellers.

PECO officials also say a new record was set in electrical and natural gas demand.

“Our customers depend on us to provide reliable power when they need it the most, especially during harsh temperatures, and our system continues to perform well,” said Craig Adams, PECO president and CEO. 

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Customer demand for electricity reached 7,148 megawatts, shattering PECO’s previous record winter energy use peak of 6,852 MW set on February 5, 2007.  Customer demand for natural gas totaled 759,550 thousand cubic feet (mcf), surpassing the previous all-time winter daily total of 718,362 mcf set on January 17, 2000.
 

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