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New York Set Record for Energy Consumption During Heat Wave

July 23, 2013; 11:41 AM

Air conditioners set to full throttle helped the Empire State and New York City set records for power consumption last week.

With temperatures hovering above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for six straight days, New Yorkers and citizens upstate pushed power supplies to their full capacity.

In the city, Consolidated Edison Inc. reported record electricity use Friday of 13,214 megawatts. That beat the old mark of 13,189 MW set in the summer of 2011.

Photo by: Flickr user idleformat

Upstate, the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, reported an average hourly peak load of 33,955 MW on Friday. That surpassed the previous record statewide set in the summer of 2006.

Regulators at the ISO said the state was prepared to meet the demand crunch because none of the bigger power plants went down during the heat wave.

"Unprecedented levels of generator availability were experienced with every bulk power-producing asset within New York state in operation," the ISO's president, Stephen Whitley, said in a statement.

Milder weather is expected here this week with average temperatures dipping to the mid 80s or 70s.

The uptick in air conditioning use had at least one environmental organization fuming. Climate Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, was critical of the AC use and said it was contributing to higher carbon levels in the atmosphere.

In a blog post, the group warned that such behavior -- hunkering down in the cool indoors -- is becoming more common outside the United States. China is on track to pass the United States as the top consumer of electricity for AC use by 2020, the group said.

The group also warned that increased heat waves due to climate change could mean 20 percent more fatalities in Manhattan alone over the next decade. Those who live through urban heat waves without air conditioning, especially the elderly in poor communities, are thought to be vulnerable to the deadly effects of heat and dehydration.

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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