In extreme cold, regional power grid could use a break

     (AP File Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    (AP File Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    With Tuesday’s single-digit temperatures, the high demand for heat has sent electricity use soaring to record heights — and has caused several power plants in the region to shut down.

    “The magnitude of the cold, and as far reaching as the cold is — it is across our entire system as well as our neighbors,” said Michael Kormos, executive vice president of operations for PJM Interconnection. PJM oversees the regional electrical grid and makes sure power flows to PECO, PSE&G and other utilities.

    To lighten the load on the grid and prevent power losses, PJM is urging consumers to cut back on electricity.

    “Every little bit can help,” said Kormos. “There’s 60 million people in our footprint. If everybody did just a little bit, you know that could easily add up to one nuclear plant, which is about 1,000 megawatts.”

    The grid operator suggested turning off lights, waiting to use appliances such as dishwashers and dryers, and, if possible, lowering the thermostat.

    PJM’s appeal for conservation will remain in effect until about 9 p.m., when the demand for electricity is expected to decrease.

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