July 31, 2006

Heat wave to push Midwest power demand to record

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Power grid operators in the U.S.
Midwest forecast record electricity usage Monday as customers
crank up their air conditioners to escape a blistering heat

The Midwest Independent System Operator, which operates the
grid in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba,
forecast peak demand would reach 119,396 megawatts on Monday,
breaking the record of 113,054 MW set on July 17.

That would be more than 6 percent over last year's record
of 112,197 MW.

One megawatt powers about 800 homes under normal weather
conditions. During a heat wave, however, a megawatt powers
fewer homes.

After temperatures climbed past 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) in
some Midwest cities over the weekend, meteorologists forecast
highs Monday and Tuesday would reach 94 in Indianapolis, 99 in
Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, and 101 in Minneapolis.

Also over the weekend, electricity traders noted the shut
down and power reduction of several of the region's big nuclear
power plants, including DTE Energy Co.'s Fermi 2 unit in
Michigan and American Electric Power Co. Inc.'s Cook 1 unit in
Michigan, would put additional strain on the system.

So far, the Midwest ISO, which serves more than 36 million
people, has not taken any steps to reduce demand -- no rotating
blackouts -- and heat related outages have been relatively

Some 50,000 customer in the Great Lakes region lost power
over the weekend due to storms, not heat.

The Midwest ISO, however, notified generators and
transmission owners to prepare for the heat and heavy demand.

That means the power companies should not conduct any
unnecessary maintenance and should keep extra crews in the
field to deal with unexpected emergencies.

Some utilities, including Exelon Corp.'s Commonwealth
Edison Co. subsidiary in Chicago, already have asked customers
to conserve energy this week.

In addition, the commercial and industrial customers who
volunteered to cut power during emergencies in exchange for
lower utility rates were on notice that the grid operator may
call on them to reduce usage.


As the heat wave moves east, the grid operators in the
Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and the Canadian province of Ontario
forecast power usage would reach record levels on Tuesday and

PJM, the nation's biggest grid operator, serving more than
51 million people in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, forecast
demand Tuesday would reach 140,249 MW, breaking the record of
139,746 MW set on July 17. That would surpass last year's
record of 133,763 MW by almost 5 percent.

The Independent Electricity System Operator in Ontario,
serving more than 11 million people, forecast demand Tuesday
would reach 26,230 MW, breaking last year's record of 26,160 MW
set on July 13.

ISO New England, serving more than 14 million people in the
six New England states, forecast demand Wednesday would reach
28,100 MW, breaking the record of 27,395 MW set on July 18.
That would surpass last year's record of 26,885 MW by almost 2

Meteorologists forecast the heat wave would break on
Tuesday night in the Midwest and Wednesday night in the
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, as a cold front moves across the
continent from west to east, pushing the hot weather into the
Atlantic Ocean.