Aug. 7, 2002 — The U.S. electric power industry has set a new record for output, providing 90,640 GWh for the week ending August 3.
Extreme heat and humidity over the eastern half of the nation helped drive the weekly output to this new all-time high, topping the previous record of 88,120 GWh set for the week ending August 11, 2001.
“For years, growth in demand for electricity has far outpaced growth in electric generation,” Bill Brier, EEI vice president, communication said. He noted that from 1995 to 1999, U.S. electric demand increased by 9.5 percent, while total electric generation additions rose only 1.6 percent. “This imbalance between supply and demand can become critical during severe periods such as this, underscoring the need to build new generation in order to meet demand and offset retirements of existing power plants.”
The Mid-Atlantic region showed the biggest percent gain (+29.5%) over the same period last year, while the Southeast (+17.5%) and New England (+14.9%) also experienced large electric output increases.
Among the companies that surpassed previous peak demand records were Carolina Power & Light, Commonwealth Edison, Dominion Resources, Duquesne Light, PECO Energy, and PPL Electric Utilities. In addition, the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) Interconnection, the electricity grid operator for more than 25 million people in seven Mid-Atlantic states, reported record usage levels on Tuesday July 30.
The high heat and humidity also affected wholesale electricity prices this past week. Prices for one megawatthour (MWh) of electricity hit the $1,000 price cap in New York last Monday, while prices on Tuesday hovered near $100/MWh. The average electricity prices in the PJM Interconnection and New York areas typically are around $36/MWh.
“Power companies have made tremendous efforts to keep the lights on during this period, just as consumers have done their part to use electricity wisely,” Brier said. “But the United States faces a chronic ‘generation gap.’ While energy-efficiency improvements and wise energy use have played a major role in meeting national energy needs since the 1970s,” Brier said, “additional supplies of electricity are critical to meeting the country’s long-term energy needs.”
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of U.S. shareholder- owned electric companies, international affiliates and industry associates worldwide. Our U.S. members serve roughly 90 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry, nearly 70 percent of all electric utility ultimate customers in the nation, and generate nearly 70 percent of the electricity produced in the United States.