This week, the Board of Public Utilities is looking to accommodate increased demand inside their service territory - as well as beyond.
"We started up the gas turbine the last couple of weeks and also Monday morning with the intention of running it throughout the week," said BPU General Manager Dave Leathers, as he announced the utility company has begun its sometimes seasonal tradition of selling locally produced electricity to the statewide grid.
He said it is anticipated that high demand across the region will put its power supply at a premium, which is sold to other power-producing companies affiliated with the New York Independent System Operator.
To beat the heat, area residents like Connie are swimming in their pools.
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"Power prices during the day are going to be quite high this week, so those are sales from outside the community that we would like to take advantage of," Leathers said.
According to the NYISO, which records energy consumption in the state and figures locational marginal pricing, areas downstate will pay more than $100 per megawatt-hour.
Other independent system operators throughout the nation report significant jumps in urban areas, while rural areas are less than half that amount.
Last July, New York state nearly exceeded its all-time consumption peak of 33,939 MW. The forecasted peak demand for 2011 is 32,712 MW, and on Tuesday the combined state total already reached 30,624 MW.
With sweltering weather expected to continue all week, the power industry is keeping a watchful eye on the rise in consumption.
"Typically speaking, we are a bit early in this heat wave," said Steve Brady, spokesman for the western region of National Grid. "It is not until three, four, five days of consecutive hot weather when we start thinking about peak demand. It is still relatively early this week."
According to National Grid, at least locally there could be some records broken by the weekend. Brady stated the all-time peak for the Western New York region is 6,915 MW, set in the late afternoon on July 8, 2010. By the end of the office hours Tuesday, the region had climbed to 6,636 MW.
He said peak demand is really a numerical guideline which results from the constant communication between NYISO and client companies that provide either generation and transmission, like the BPU and National Grid. Whereas power plants may need to fill gaps in production as well as take advantage of rising price points, Brady said his company is given a real test on near-peak days concerning the quality of their cables, transformers and other transmission devices.
"Everything has to be in balance, quite literally moment-by-moment," he said.
Brady said the state's larger urban areas generally have a larger consumption load, where sustained usage during the workday leads to a peak between 3 and 5 p.m. The daily closing of offices and the current outlay of one-shift production schedules means a large decline in power consumed in the evening, and he said the grid rarely peaks on the weekend.
REIGNING IN ELECTRIC BILLS
For residential electric customers, the outdoor sun can penetrate the walls of the home and burn through finances, however there are effective ways to beat the heat.
Dan Reynolds, energy efficiency coordinator at the BPU, said rebates for Energy Star products can offset the cost of these better-grade appliances, and require as much as 15 percent less energy to run afterward. Upon filling out a form at the BPU's customer service office, the rebate shows up as a credit on the customer's electric bill.
In the broadest strategy, Reynolds said customers should think of their home as an envelope and try to reign in potential leaks.
"A lot of people have done our weatherization program, and that is something that is very useful for the summertime," he said, referring to the free audits and subsequent upgrades to windows, doors and other products offered by the BPU. "During the winter it helps keep the heat in, but during the summer it will also keep the heat out."
Steve Brady said people who operate air-conditioning units in their home should consider adjusting the temperature just a few degrees higher. He added people should take advantage of programmable units and thermostats that allow the indoors to warm up a few degrees while no one is home.
"A lot of people think it is more efficient to leave it at one temperature and that is not true," he said.
On the other hand, Brady also said dropping your thermostat down to 65 degrees will not cool down the space any faster, but it will consume much more power to reach that specified level of comfort. Reynolds advised 72 degrees as an ideal compromise to chilly indoor air.
Brady said the summer season of electric fans and A/C units is also an ideal time to scale back the dial on the hot water tank. He added unplugging "energy vampires," such as digital devices that are not being used but still draw power, can make up some of the new power requirements of cooling devices.
For information about Energy Star rebates and other energy efficiency programs at the BPU, contact Dan Reynolds at 661-1646.