CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Unseasonably hot weather led to record power consumption across West Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states Tuesday and Wednesday, straining the region's power grid and causing blackouts in some areas.
However, power officials predict conditions will return to normal once a cooling trend settles over the region today.
PJM Interconnection, the company that oversees and operates the electricity transmission grid that runs throughout West Virginia, 12 other states and Washington, D.C., said Wednesday the 90-degree temperatures across the Mid-Atlantic region caused an unprecedented spike in power demand for this time of year.
The demand spike, coupled with some local equipment problems, caused blackouts and power problems in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
The company said the grid's power demand surged to 144,370 megawatts at its daily peak around 4 p.m. Tuesday. That's the highest peak power demand reading the company has ever recorded during the month of September and the second-highest demand the company had seen all year.
"Demand today and yesterday will be the highest since July 18, since we set the high demand for the year," PJM spokesman Ray Dotter said Wednesday.
"You just don't see that," he said. "The second-highest demand of the year never occurs in September."
The peak high demand recorded last September was 129,959 megawatts. While the difference between that peak and Tuesday's is less than 15,000 megawatts, Dotter said that increase is enormous in terms power consumption.
"It's like adding a decent sized city like Baltimore or Pittsburgh (to the power grid)," he said. "That's a pretty big difference from one September to the next."
Typically, power demand spikes in June, July and August as consumers and business power air conditioners. Demand then drops off in September as temperatures begin to cool.
Following that trend, power companies usually begin taking some power plant units and transmission lines offline for maintenance in September.
PJM officials said the extreme heat combined with the loss of some generating and transmission capacity forced the company to temporarily cut of power to some small areas in order to avert a larger, regional blackout.