NYC: Con Ed Hits Record-High 13,700 Megawatt Load Due to Heat Wave


con-edIt was a day for breaking records in New York. At around 3:40 p.m. today, Con Edison announced that it hit an all-time, record-high 13,700 megawatt load, and said that number could go even higher.

Record heat and record power usage hit on Friday, but Con Ed was able to channel it initially with what it believes to be a minimum of inconvenience, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer. As of 6 p.m., there were 7,000 power outages in the city and Westchester County and a little more than 350,000 customers coping with a 5-percent reduction in power, but officials said it was still early.

“We’re not out of the woods just yet,” Office of Emergency Management head Joe Bruno said.

They were lugging air conditioners, fanning themselves on the streets and carrying lots of iced drinks in Astoria, Queens on Friday – an area hit by a Con Ed mega blackout five years ago.

“I’m just fanning myself into a comfortable state. It’s better than sloshing around in the snow,” one resident said.

Con Ed officials have been monitoring the soaring heat and the soaring usage from their command center. They have been relying on extra workers, lots of preparation and are asking customers to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees and turn off any appliances that are not absolutely necessary.

“We cross fingers, heads and toes, anything we can still tried to keep the power flowing reliably. We’re fairly confident we will, but we don’t want to assume anything,” Con Ed spokesperson Mike Clendenin said.

And here’s an amazing statistic: Con Ed said that for every degree below 78 that you set your thermostat, your bill goes up 6 percent.

So if you set your thermostat at 72 instead of 78, it means if your bill is normally $100 you’ll pay $136. Instead of $300, your bill will jump to $408.

Not many people are heeding the 78-degree fiat.

“I think I can deal with that increase in price for just a little bit, just to stay cooler,” Todd Ackerman said.

While Con Ed said it is confident it can handle the heat wave, Saturday is also going to be a scorcher, so the message from the utility is conserve, conserve, conserve.

“This, we think, will be the most stressful day on the electric grid in recent history – maybe ever,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “What we need is people to turn their air conditioners to no cooler than 79 – it’s a little bit uncomfortable but not having electricity would be a lot more uncomfortable.”

“Obviously the heat is a factor our cables underground – there’s nowhere for the heat to go – they’re carrying extra electricty,” spokesman Chris Olert told 1010 WINS. “We are seeing that customers are conserving and we’re still urging them to conserve.”

Customers can report power or service problems online at or by calling 1.800.752.6633. If reporting an outage, have your account number ready if possible, and know whether or not your neighbors are also without power.

Ahead of the heat wave, Con Edison said they were ready for the increase in demand all the air conditioning would cause.

“We spent more than $1 billion preparing for the summer of 2011 and beyond,” spokesman Alan Drury told 1010 WINS. “We’re confident that while there probably will be scattered outages that we’ll be able to keep them confined and short in duration.”

Homeowners have been asked to conserve as much energy as possible and to take care to keep the heat from creeping in.

Simple practices, such as pulling blinds down, keeping doors closed and running air conditioners at a moderate temperature, will go a long way.

“People can save a lot of money and energy by taking some simple steps such as cleaning their air conditioning filters,” Drury said.

{CBS News/ Newscenter}