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Hot days have Utah Power seeing yellow

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Monday is Utah's first-ever "yellow" energy conservation day as scorching temperatures have created a high demand for electrical energy in the state.

In fact, five Utah cities reached record-high temperatures for the date Sunday. Cedar City and Midway both reached a record 97 degrees. Orem and Tooele at 102 degrees and Pleasant Grove at 99 degrees also set records.

After Saturday's high of 101 degrees, Salt Lake City's high climbed to triple digits again Sunday hitting 100 degrees. Other highs Sunday were: Provo, 99 degrees; Logan, 97 degrees; and St. George, 109 degrees.

"We need to pay stronger-than-normal attention to conservation," Utah Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen said of the "yellow" status Monday. "Pay special attention to what appliances you're using."

Remember the "no burn" days in the winter trying to keep the air cleaner during inversions? This is a similar attempt at conserving electrical energy in an attempt to prevent power blackouts like California experienced earlier this year.

Eskelsen said this voluntary conservation effort is part of a statewide energy conservation program, "PowerForward," that features traffic signal colors to let customers know if they need to cut back on power usage.

Eskelsen said today's expected high temperatures and thus high air-conditioner usage are the primary reason for the yellow day. A "green" color day means normal conservation efforts apply and a "red" means there's a shortage of reserve power.

He said Utah Power isn't expecting any "red" days this summer, but they could conceivably still happen if power supplies diminish enough in neighboring states and affect the entire West's power grid.

Today's mostly sunny weather and high near 100 along the Wasatch Front means residents should pay close attention to what electric power they are using, especially during the peak usage period of 2 to 8 p.m. Eskelsen said not running large appliances during that time period will help Utah's electrical supply.

"We'll take a look at this every day," he said. With continued hot and near-record-high 100 to 103-degree temperatures predicted Tuesday, it will also likely be a "yellow" energy day.

A conservation bonus is that for households that save 10 or 20 percent on their monthly energy usage, as compared to the same period last year, Utah Power will credit them with a corresponding 10 to 20 percent rebate bonus.

Dennis Rodgers, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Salt Lake office, said there's no indication of lower temperatures until at least Wednesday. The downside then could be the presence of more moisture in the air that may not only create thunderstorms, but could also keep overnight temperatures in the 70s.

Tonight's overnight low will be 65 to 70 and isolated evening thunderstorms and gusty winds are possible both Monday and Tuesday. The extended forecast for Independence Day calls for a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, with highs in the upper 90s. The Thursday through Sunday prediction is for a continued chance of thunderstorms, lows near 70 and highs in the 90s.

E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com