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Published - Wednesday, August 30, 2000
Power usage hits all-time high
By JIM WILLIS Special to The Sun
The bad news is Edmond residents can expect high electrical bills for August, as the city recorded an all-time-high peak usage period this week. "We set a new all-time peak demand (Tuesday). The peak demand usage was 192,000 kilowatts and that occurred between 5 and 6 p.m.," said Charlie Burgett, the city's electrical utility director.
And Monday was the second highest usage day.
Meanwhile, power usage could continue to increase as long as temperatures continue over 100 degrees, he said.
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures could reach up to 105 degrees over Labor Day weekend.
Whether or not Edmond residents leave town over the holiday could impact power usage too, Burgett said.
"We don't know if people will be leaving the city and heading for the lake. In that case, they may not be using as much electricity in Edmond. This week's figures eclipsed the old record of 185,000 kilowatts recorded last summer, he said.
The good news is there is plenty of electricity to meet consumers' demands.
"Although the heat is creating a lot of stress on the system, we do have sufficient capacity so we don't see any problems in accommodating the electrical needs of our customers," Burgett said.
And despite the record usage this week, the city's electrical system responded by performing without a breakdown.
"Even with the record demand, we had no power outages that day," Burgett said. "That's a pretty significant thing for us to be able to meet all demands even during a record peak usage period."
Still, the heat-related stress can't help but cause occasional problems, and there have been a few this summer.
"The heat has definitely had an impact on the amount of electricity our customers are using," Burgett said.
"A typical problem is the kind we've had in Kickingbird. We've had more than the average amount of problems in that subdivision," he said. "The heat and increased usage often causes problems for the connector on a transformer."
Another typical heat-related problem is an insulation failure on an underground electrical cable, causing a short circuit, he said.
The 5 to 6 p.m. period is the hottest part of the afternoon, Burgett said, and it's also a time when businesses are still open and residential loads are picking up. People are coming home from work to homes where programmable thermostats have kicked in.
Burgett encouraged consumers to conserve electrical usage as much as possible, and said the reward is lower utility bills. He offered the following tips:
Close draperies and blinds during the day.
Set the air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher.
Turn on a fan - ceiling fans are great - instead of dropping the thermostat.
Turn off the thermostat when you leave the house, or set it higher.
Clean and/or replace air conditioning filters.
Make sure you're not adding heat to the home by drying laundry during the daytime hours. Instead, dry it early in the morning or hang it outside to dry.
Check the attic insulation to see if it is sufficient to keep heat from coming in.
Consider adding turbine fans to your roof to keep the attic cool.
Consider keeping your garage door cracked a foot above the pavement to keep the garage ventilated.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 2000