Temperature spike challenges area’s power grid

 Leigh Binnion, visiting from Houston, enjoys some cool water. (Nat Hamlilton/for NewsWorks, file photo)

Leigh Binnion, visiting from Houston, enjoys some cool water. (Nat Hamlilton/for NewsWorks, file photo)

It’s finally cooled off after some unseasonably hot weather. The high temperatures didn’t just make for a sweaty mess, they also strained the region’s the electric power supply.  The unusually warm September weather lead many to crank up their air conditioners during a month when power use is typically lower because of cooler temperatures.

Ray Dotter, a spokesperson for electricity grid operator PJM Interconnection said on Tuesday customers set a new record for September peak power use. He said the unexpected heat and power demand could have created a problem because the company shuts down some equipment in the cooler weather to do maintenance. “We were headed towards breaking that [record] on Wednesday but we called on ‘demand response.’ Which is a voluntary program where customers agree to cut back.  And that lowered the demand and that kept supply and demand in balance.”

Dotter said the demand response program pays customers who agree to cut back on their power usage when asked. He said this demand response program worked and the grid was kept in good condition. PJM Interconnection serves 61 million people including residents of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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