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Sep 3, 2019 5:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Summer 2019 Set New Record For Short-Term Power Demands On the South Fork

Generators at the Montauk substation.   KYRIL BROMLEY
Sep 3, 2019 5:29 PM

The summer of 2019 saw new highs in demand for electrical power on the South Fork that flirted with but did not stress the maximum amounts the electrical grid could supply.

Overall, however, power usage for the region was essentially flat on the back of a summer that featured a short blip of hot weather but was otherwise unremarkable in terms of prolonged demand-inducing high temperatures.

Over two days in July the power demand from Southampton and East Hampton towns alone soared to 291 megawatts, about 5 percent more than the previous all-time high demand level of 276 megawatts in August 2016.

The leap came with the hottest temperatures recorded in the region in several summers coinciding with two weekend afternoons — when power demand is the highest — on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21.

The temporary power generators that PSEG had stationed in Montauk were fired up for the only time all summer on those afternoons but only because outages at other points in the grid had tripped off some supply, PSEG’s engineering group director Curt Dahl said. The temporary generators ran for 4.5 hours on July 20 and for 8 hours on July 21.

The electric utility also called on a contracted third-party power conservation program known as Peak Savers to reduce demand by some 9 megawatts on those two July afternoons, cutting back on demand by dialing down “smart” thermostats and pool pumps and by tapping privately owned backup generators that are tied into the grid and controlled by Peak Savers.

Officials from PSEG said that if the same conditions — a series of very hot days falling over a weekend — had come during an even busier holiday weekend, like that of July 4, they would expect the demand to have been as much 20 megawatts higher, putting it within a few megawatts of the 314-megawatt supply limit that the grid can currently provide to the region.

“We’re right there with our forecasts,” Mr. Dahl said of the utility company’s predictions for power demand under predicted meteorological conditions. “When we forecast, it’s for what we call normal conditions. This year, the peak producing conditions were a little hotter than normal. If you break down the summer … you see that in June the usage was about flat compared to 2018. When you got into July it was up about 5 percent — that’s pretty substantial — and in August, relative to 2018, we were down, since it’s been cool the last few weeks. So we’re almost at parity.”

It’s been years since the East End experienced a prolonged heat wave of the sort that can stress power supplies, while underlying demand growth continues well below that — in ways that must be tracked in order to forecast what the needs may be when hot summers return.

The utility says that it has a “robust” plan for expanding power supplies over the next several years, including the construction of the new power substation in Montauk (now one of the region’s largest load pockets), installing new transmission lines to the South Fork, upgrading existing supply lines for higher capacity and improving energy efficiency.

And, of course, at some point in the next several years the utility expects to have the South Fork Wind Farm sending a new power supply to the region.

“We’ve had several cool summers which don’t push the peak loads, but we have to keep track of that so we don’t lose the trend and then have a hot weather summer,” Mr. Dahl said. “We are right on target.”

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I turn on the AC because it's hot and the air is polluted, which uses electricity, which pollutes the air and makes it hotter, so I turn on the AC...
By Aeshtron (406), Southampton on Sep 4, 19 10:00 AM
"291 megawatts, about 5 percent more than the previous all-time high demand level of 276 megawatts in August 2016." - So in 3 years the new "peak" load went up 15 megawatts. It would be really interesting to know how much residential and business based photovoltaic supply has been added to the system in that same time frame. Was it enough to offset the new peak load? Also what the total photovoltaic supply is broken down by towns on the East End. Perhaps Mr Wright could pursue that information ...more
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Sep 11, 19 4:09 PM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island