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Electric Companies Prepare For Summer Usage Spike

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Mark Abrams Mark Abrams
Mark Abrams is a versatile part of the KYW Newsradio family, serving...
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By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With Memorial Day a week away and the start of summer just around the corner, we’ll soon be seeing those 90-plus degree days that drive folks to seek relief from fans and air conditioners.

Because the summer season brings the highest demand for power in the region, area electric companies already are planning for big spikes in usage.

The Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection based in Valley Forge works with the area’s power companies to manage the electricity supply and make sure there’s plenty of it available, especially in the summer.

Ray Dotter, a PJM spokesman, says most of the demand is met by power plants fueled by coal and natural gas and by nuclear plants in the region.

But, he says when power usage spikes on certain days, there are reserve or emergency generators that can be fired up in short order to meet the demand.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand response on our whole system. We have enough demand-side response equivalent to all the power used in the city of Philadelphia,” Dotter said.

Dotter says the availability of natural gas because of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale resources is making it easier and cheaper to produce that power.

Besides power demand, Dotter says the utilities also are planning for summer storms and they’re taking to heart the lessons learned from Super-storm Sandy in power restoration priorities.

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