Thursday, July 21, 2011

That Sound You Hear Is The Power Grid Groaning

Power grids throughout much of the US are groaning under the tremendous power demands due to the heat wave stretching across the country. In New York, the current load is 32905.5 MW (as of around 2pm) according to the NYISO, which operates the grid in New York. Other operators are expecting record or near record demand:
PJM, which operates the biggest power grid in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, forecast electric usage would peak at 154,300 MW on Thursday, which is much higher than the 149,000 MW peak the grid forecast for this summer but still below the 158,448 MW peak record set in August 2006.

New York ISO, which operates the state's grid, forecast the peak would top 33,200 MW Thursday, which is higher than the 32,700 MW peak the grid forecast for the summer but still a little shy of the 33,939 MW peak record set in August 2006.

In New England, ISO New England forecast demand this week would peak on Friday at about 27,400 MW, which is just below the grid's 27,500 MW peak forecast for the summer and the 28,130 MW peak record set in August 2006.

In Ontario, the grid operator forecast demand Thursday would top 25,900 MW, which is much higher than the 23,500 MW peak the grid forecast for this year summer but still below the 27,005 MW peak record set in August 2006.
One of the reasons that the power demands aren't as high as their 2006 peaks has to do with the fact that the ongoing sluggish economy has meant that there are fewer businesses drawing power combined with more energy efficient products being utilized across the marketplace (lighting, air conditioning, computers, and other consumer and business products). Efforts for voluntary reduction of power consumption are also being utilized by power companies to reduce the strain on their grids.

As of around 3pm, the NY ISO is reporting a Real-Time Load of 33156.5 MW. That's coming close to the peak predicted by the ISO earlier today, but expect the number to rise as people begin leaving work for home and turning on their air conditioners.

PJM interconnect is showing 156,995MW and closing in on their peak predictions.

4:10 PM - and the PJM is showing 158,122 MW while NY ISO is showing 33257.8 MW. In both instances, they've exceeded their usage estimates from earlier in the day, and we've still got another two hours before the usage slides back. Power usage is expected to be even higher as we go into the weekend meaning that the odds for power problems will increase in the next few days as equipment folds under the severe heat and could cause localized brownouts and blackouts.

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