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Power Grids can't Keep up as Shocking Heat wave hits EAST COAST

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July 06, 2010 – Comments (0) | RELATED TICKERS: PGN , DUK , NEE

(Power stocks to watch during heat wave? PGN, DUK, NEE, SO)

ACs on Overdrive as Heatwave Hits Eastern US

Updated: 23 minutes agohttp://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/heat-wave-to-scorch-americas-east-coast-power-blackouts-a-concern/19542787

 

(July 6) -- Temperatures in the triple digits along America's East Coast are prompting cities to open cooling shelters and offices to crank up their air conditioners -- sparking fears of blackouts amid increased electricity demand.

In a harbinger of what could be to come, electricity went out across much of Toronto on Monday, but the cause was traced to a fire at a transformer station rather than too much volume on the power grid. Still, the outage conjured memories of the devastating summertime blackout in 2003, when much of the Eastern U.S. and Canada were plunged into darkness because of an overloaded grid.

The Toronto outage also hit the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, where Britain's queen was due to have dinner, Reuters reported. Power was restored around 6 p.m., after more than an hour of disruptions to subways, electric buses and streetcars. At one point, motorists got out of their cars to direct traffic under darkened traffic lights.


With the masses returning to work after the long Fourth of July weekend, the fear is that increased energy demand -- with office air conditioners rumbling at full-blast because of the heat wave -- could push utilities usage to record levels.

About 17,000 customers in northern New Jersey lost power for more than four hours Monday, though authorities said they're still investigating the outage's cause and it's not clear whether it was related to the heat.

New York's Consolidated Edison utility company is preparing for peak usage today, perhaps breaking the record set on Aug. 2, 2006, spokesman Bob McGee told The Associated Press.

An excessive heat advisory is in effect today for New York and much of the mid-Atlantic area, where high humidity is expected to combine with hot temperatures to "make it feel like it is 100 to 104 degrees for two consecutive hours" or more, the National Weather Service said. It is cautioning residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay in air-conditioned rooms and out of the sun, and check in on relatives and neighbors, particularly the elderly.

In New York, 100 cooling centers opened Monday and more than 500 air-conditioned public spaces like libraries and community centers will be available today, said Chris Gilbride, with the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

"It's hot, and it's going to remain hot," Gilbride told USA Today. People should conserve energy to avoid overtaxing energy grid systems, he said.
AOL Weather: Get Your Forecast
Summer school classes in the Philadelphia area are being called off today to ease energy demand, and children across the country are plunging into pools and lakes. "It's less hot because you're in the cold water," 6-year-old Addison Crawford, swimming in Ohio's Maumee Bay, told the The Blade of Toledo.

High temperatures over the Independence Day weekend have been blamed for at least one death, that of a homeless woman in suburban Detroit on Sunday. The medical examiner's office told the Detroit Free Press the 56-year-old woman died of hyperthermia, or an abnormally high body temperature.

Another victim of the heat Monday was Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, who was hospitalized after marching in five parades over the holiday weekend. His spokesman told news agencies he spent last night in the hospital but is in good spirits.

Meanwhile, the owner of an ice company in Virginia said the heat wave means good business for him.

"It's been a fabulous season for heat," City Ice Co.'s Mark Resnick told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "This is the best year in three years."

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