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Power usage expected to break records, but supply adequate

The New England power grid will have 30,345 megawatts available today - use is expected to peak at a record 28,030 megawatts, even after energy companies have put out a call for people to voluntarily reduce power consumption, she said.

With temperatures soaring and air conditioners across New England gobbling up power as they crank out cool air, experts are predicting record-breaking electricity use today.

But ISO New England, a not-for-profit corporation that connects electricity providers throughout the region, predicts the system will be able to handle the demand, although only by an 8 percent margin.

"This type of demand is unprecedented," said Erin O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the company.

By early last night, Public Service of New Hampshire reported outages were already beginning to crop up in parts of Londonderry, Pelham, and Windham. Line crews were assessing neighborhoods last night and expected power to be back up by 5 a.m. today at the latest.

"We're doing fine," PSNH spokeswoman Elizabeth LaRocca said last night. "We've had some sporadic outages because transformers are failing in certain areas, but we're doing quite well. It appears that the usage is lowering today. We'll see how we do tomorrow."

The New England power grid will have 30,345 megawatts available today - use is expected to peak at a record 28,030 megawatts, even after energy companies have put out a call for people to voluntarily reduce power... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

With temperatures soaring and air conditioners across New England gobbling up power as they crank out cool air, experts are predicting record-breaking electricity use today.

But ISO New England, a not-for-profit corporation that connects electricity providers throughout the region, predicts the system will be able to handle the demand, although only by an 8 percent margin.
 
"This type of demand is unprecedented," said Erin O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the company.
 
By early last night, Public Service of New Hampshire reported outages were already beginning to crop up in parts of Londonderry, Pelham, and Windham. Line crews were assessing neighborhoods last night and expected power to be back up by 5 a.m. today at the latest.
 
"We're doing fine," PSNH spokeswoman Elizabeth LaRocca said last night. "We've had some sporadic outages because transformers are failing in certain areas, but we're doing quite well. It appears that the usage is lowering today. We'll see how we do tomorrow."
 
The New England power grid will have 30,345 megawatts available today - use is expected to peak at a record 28,030 megawatts, even after energy companies have put out a call for people to voluntarily reduce power consumption, she said.
 
Peak use is not a total use for the day, but the highest level of demand at a single moment during the day.
 
Drawing lessons from blackouts as recent as 2003 and as distant as 1965, ISO New England has developed a strategy to deal with the extreme power demand, O'Brien said.
 
Still, today's predicted electricity usage had energy employees closely watching computer monitors and attending special meetings all day yesterday, LaRocca said.
 
If today's electricity consumption shatters the current record, it would be the second time this summer. Two weeks ago, on July 18, power use set a new record peak across New England at 27,395 megawatts.
 
In New Hampshire, consumption reached 2,186 megawatts that day, compared with the 1,800-megawatt peak on an average day, LaRocca said.
 
Energy use rises by about 2 percent every year, O'Brien said, and experts expect records to be broken every few years. But while ISO New England analysts had expected the first day of record-breaking energy use this summer, they hadn't expected a second record only a few weeks later, she said.
 
The Granite State's four energy providers are watching ISO New England for instructions about what steps, if any, they will have to take. And the regional company is drawing on past lessons as it makes decisions today, O'Brien said.
 
A New York City blackout in 2003 taught those in the electricity industry just how interconnected the country's grid really is, O'Brien said. While the outage, which cascaded from the Midwest, never made it to New England, she said her company used the incident as a way to learn about preventing power bottlenecks and failures.
 
With those lessons in mind, she said, ISO New England has put together a three-part strategy to prevent a failure on days when demand squeezes the margin for error.
 
The first two lines of defense, she said, are customers. The company could first ask that they conserve energy. ISO New England already has asked customers keep air conditioners set between 74 and 78 degrees and to not use washing machines, dryers and dishwashers during peak, afternoon times.
 
If that isn't enough, the company could reach out to its industrial and commercial users, asking them to dramatically draw down their operations for short periods, allowing more slack in the system.
 
If that failed, O'Brien said, the company would have the option of drawing power from other parts of the country, though a supply from outside New England would depend on availability, she said.
 
But, O'Brien said, experts don't expect any interruption in electricity, and they are hoping to see the day pass without a problem.
 
"We anticipate having adequate power supplies," O'Brien said.
 

Electricity Across New England (in megawatts)
 
Today
 
Available 30,345
 
Expected use 28,030
 
Tomorrow
 
Available 30,159
 
Expected use 26,010
 
Friday
 
Available 30,259
 
Expected use 22,410
 


Source: http://www.eagletribune.com...

AUG 2 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3791-power-usage-expected-to-break-records-but-supply-adequate
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