NEAL P. GOSWAMI
Senior Staff Writer
BENNINGTON -- As temperatures soar this week electricity use is following suit, prompting the operator of New England’s power grid to ask for voluntary conservation efforts.
High heat and humidity throughout the region could drive electricity use to near-record levels, according to a release from ISO New England. In the Bennington area, temperatures are expected to hover around 90 degrees during the day into Saturday.
ISO New England is a nonprofit corporation that is responsible for the operation of New England’s electric power generation and transmission system. It also oversees the region’s wholesale electricity markets.
Pressure on system
Air conditioners are buzzing in homes throughout the northeast, putting pressure on the electrical system. Where possible, people should be conserving as much energy as possible.
"As the heat continues to build throughout the week, electricity demand is expected to increase significantly, which is likely to result in tight system conditions," Vamsi Chadalavada, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISO New England said. "The ISO is asking consumers to voluntarily conserve as a precautionary step to help manage system conditions."
According to ISO New England, peak usage this week is forecasted for Thursday at 27,800 megawatts. Usage on Tuesday was expected to reach 27,500 megawatts, and usage on Wednesday predicted to hit 27,700 megawatts.
Electricity usage peaked last year on July 17 at 25,880 megawatts. The record in New England for electricity usage is 28,130 megawatts. That record was set on August 2, 2006. One megawatt of electricity can power approximately 1,000 homes.
Energy conservation is most important between noon and 8 p.m., according ISO New England. Energy can be saved in the follow ways:
* Raise air conditioning thermostats by a few degrees, if health permits. ISO New England suggests a temperature range between 74 and 78 degrees
* Turn off unneeded lights and appliances
* Turn off unnecessary office equipment
* Shut off air conditioners when leaving home for extended periods of time
* Defer laundry and other chores requiring electricity until the early morning or late evening hours.
ISO New England officials said they will continue to monitor the power system closely. Demand is not expected to exceed supply. However, if that occurs, the corporation has "a series of well-established steps" to return the system to balance.
Locally, heavy users were considering ways to scale back consumption. At Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, spokesman Kevin Robinson said building officials had hoped to switch from one method of making chilled water for cooling the hospital to a different method. That process didn’t pan out, he said, but the hospital has worked with Efficiency Vermont in recent years.
"We’ve done a lot to reduce electrical consumption over the past year or so," Robinson said.