Facebook Twitter

Keep cool - Utah’s power can take heat

SHARE Keep cool - Utah’s power can take heat

Go ahead and run your air conditioner or swamp cooler. Turn on a fan, even.

Utility officials say they have plenty of electricity to power the appliances that keep Utahns cool, even though temperatures may hover near - or above - 100 degrees through the middle of next week.Utah Power, which sends its volts to most people in the state, may break its record for demand this week, but company spokesman David Eskelsen said it can handle the heat.

"The hot weather is our peak demand season, and we have been very busy doing things to balance the load on our system and handle problems that come up," Eskelsen said Thursday. "(But) we have plenty of electricity. What problems we have experienced have been due to stresses on our local distribution systems."

He said Utah Power responds to several service calls every year as the weather heats up and pushes some parts of its system past the breaking point. But those kinds of calls were slacking off by Thursday.

"A lot of the troublesome areas that were prone to stress have probably been addressed," Eskelsen said.

Brent Thomas, superintendent

of operations for Bountiful City Light and Power, said it has had no problems meeting the demands of its nearly 14,000 customers, even though it set a record peak of 60 megawatts in its system Monday evening.

"It could easily set another new record (in the next few days)," Thomas said.

"We feel like we have the capacity and the power needed to supply our customers."

Gary Merrill said the 15,800 metered customers of the Murray City power department also have plenty of electrons coursing to their homes and offices, even though the department set a new record this week with a 78-megawatt peak.

"The weather projections for the next week are for continued hot weather, so we could break the record again," said Merrill, the department's general manager. "But we're still in a very acceptable range in terms of load growth and system peak growth."

Eskelsen said Utah Power sees a significant increase in demand for each degree once the temperature gets above 98. And while the company encourages conservation of electricity, he said, it does not need to ask customers to cut back on usage due to a lack of capacity.

"We're in the business to make and sell electricity, and we want to do that," Eskelsen said.

So there is power aplenty along the Wasatch Front. But what about some place that gets REALLY hot?

Phillip Solomon, deputy water and power director for St. George, said the temperature hit 114 degrees Wednesday at that city's power dispatch center.

That qualifies as hot with a capital H. But Solomon said a new, stronger transmission line into St. George that was built to handle the area's demand for the next five years has helped meet the needs brought on by the heat wave.

"(On Wednesday), just to serve the (Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems) loads in the area, which includes Santa Clara, Washington city, St. George and Hurricane, we brought in about 134 megawatts . . .," Solomon said. "(And) I don't know whether we've hit our peak yet."