Bloomberg News

Heat Wave Spreads to New York, Boosting Power Usage, Risks

June 08, 2011

(Updates with projected New York power demand in fifth paragraph.)

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Heat will spread from the Midwest to New York and the East Coast today, boosting demand for electricity to run air conditioners and creating health risks.

Advisories and warnings extend from New York to northern Virginia, including Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, where temperatures are forecast to reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

The high in Manhattan’s Central Park may reach 95, which would tie a daily record set in 1933, according to the weather service. The weather service expected yesterday that the record might be broken today, though it has since revised its forecast.

“Both the Midwest and the East are at or approaching their peak levels of heat today so that the national cooling demand level should be at its zenith for this current event,” Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC, in Bethesda, Maryland, said today in a note to clients.

There’s more than enough generating and power-line capacity in New York to meet today’s expected peak usage of 31,000 megawatts, the highest so far this year, said Ken Klapp, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, which controls the statewide power grid. Similar demand is expected tomorrow, he said in a telephone interview.

Available Capacity

Available capacity is 35,862 megawatts, well above the minimum needed to guard against a blackout from plant shutdowns or high-voltage system failures, the operator said in a statement on its website. New Yorkers used as much as 26,642 megawatts yesterday when the temperature reached 87 degrees in Central Park. The record was 33,939 megawatts on Aug. 2, 2006.

“It still isn’t near the peak of last year or the record,” Klapp said.

Natural gas declined for the first time in three days as a government report showed output this year will be 4.5 percent higher than in 2010. Prices have increased 3.1 percent this month as forecasts showed above-normal temperatures in the U.S. East, Midwest and South. Power plants use about 30 percent of U.S. gas supplies.

In New York, the city has opened cooling centers for people seeking relief. Washington has warned residents to guard against the heat and suggested refrigerating spray bottles full of water “for a quick refreshing spray to you face after being outdoors,” according to a city statement.

‘Dangerous Conditions’

An excessive heat warning issued for Philadelphia said the combination of heat and humidity will “create dangerous conditions in highly urbanized areas.”

“The elderly, the infirm, children and pets are at greatest risk,” according to the warning. “Do not leave anyone unattended in a vehicle for any length of time. It could result in their death.”

In addition to the heat bulletins, air quality alerts have been issued for various locations from New Hampshire to Georgia, meaning ground-level ozone may exceed dangerous conditions.

The heat will start to break in the Northeast by this weekend. The high temperature in New York is expected to be 77 degrees June 11 and 71 in Boston.

In his 6- to 10-day outlook, Rogers said New England will probably be cooler than normal from June 13 to June 17. Heat will continue across the U.S. South and be particularly intense in Texas, he said.

“We could press Texas back to the 100-degree level early next week,” Rogers said.

The heat will probably spread through the Midwest from June 18 to June 22, Rogers said.

--Editors: Charlotte Porter, David Marino

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net; Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net; Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.


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