Amid heat wave, Oklahoma electric utilities ready for higher demand

Electric companies don't expect to shatter peak-demand records set last summer, but this week's forecast could change those expectations.
by Paul Monies Published: July 31, 2012
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Electricity companies are already halfway through the peak summer months and are looking at a week of continued triple-digit temperatures that could push demand higher.

Utilities aren't expecting to shatter demand records like they did last year — at least not yet. But they're getting close.

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma had its highest peak-demand day of the summer so far July 19, with 4,200 megawatts of electricity. The company's forecast for this week is around 4,300 megawatts each day, said spokesman Stan Whiteford.

PSO, which has 520,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma, set a peak demand record of 4,411 megawatts almost a year ago on Aug. 3.

Adding to the electricity demand for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. will be the return of Oklahoma City Public Schools, where students start the new school year Wednesday.

OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said the utility recently has seen peak demand between 6,700 and 6,800 megawatts.

The utility, with more than 789,000 customers in Oklahoma and Arkansas, set an all-time peak demand record of 7,057 megawatts last summer.

“With this extended heat, we would expect to see our numbers begin to creep closer and closer to that number, especially as Oklahoma City Schools ramp up this week,” Alford said. “You'll continue to see loads increase as most of the metro districts will be in full swing around the middle of the month.”

This is the time of year when most Oklahoma utilities see their highest demand. It's no different at the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, which provides electricity to 39 cities across the state.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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At a glance

Electricity conservation

Customers can take several steps to reduce electricity demand and lower bills, according to Oklahoma utilities:

Raise air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees, or the highest comfortable temperature.

Use fans, which can help make a room feel 5 degrees to 6 degrees cooler.

Keep blinds and drapes closed, especially along south and west-facing walls.

Refrain from using large appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers, etc. during the hottest part of the day.

Heat up food with a microwave if possible.

Turn off or unplug any unnecessary electric equipment.

Ensure attics are adequately insulated.

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