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Natural gas, electricity usage records set during this week’s cold snap

By: Kurt Bresswein |

Electric companies were not the only utilities to break records amid the bitter cold that settled over the region earlier this week.

UGI Utilities Inc. said today all three of its natural gas divisions recorded all-time high deliveries during the 24 hours from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday. The time frame is what UGI considers its “gas day.”

Together, UGI Gas Division, UGI Penn Natural Gas and UGI Central Gas distributed more than 1.2 million dekatherms of natural gas to customers. The total usage exceeded UGI’s previous natural gas peak by more than 12 percent, the Reading, Pa.,-based company said.

On the electricity side, PPL Electric Utilities said the demand on its system for the hour ending at 6 p.m. Tuesday was 7,784 megawatt-hours, eclipsing the all-time winter peak of 7,577 megawatt-hours set on Feb. 5, 2007. That new demand record means customers used 7.78 million kilowatt-hours of power in the hour in which the mark was set, enough to power more than 700 homes for a year, the Allentown company said.

The power grid for 13 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey plus the District of Columbia, set two records Tuesday for peak winter usage: 138,000 megawatts in the morning and 141,312 megawatts at night, according to the grid operator, suburban Philadelphia-based PJM Interconnection.

One megawatt is enough to power about 1,000 homes, PJM said.

The grid’s winter record had been 136,675 megawatts, set in 2007. By Wednesday, peak usage was down to 134,014 megawatts. Today’s forecast peak usage was 119,440 megawatts, with available economic capacity for the region of 148,293 megawatts.

Compounding efforts to meet high heating needs were a number of outages this week at electricity generating plants, mostly related to the weather, PJM said.

The power use was enough to prompt PJM to ask for voluntary conservation of electricity.

“Despite the challenges, PJM was able to meet demand without interruption,” the company said in a statement.