New York Heat Spurs New Power Consumption Record

Recent hot and steamy conditions have seen New York City and New York State gobble up an enormous amount of power.

Last Friday, electricity demand in New York City and neighboring Westchester County reached 13,322 Megawatts (MW); breaking the record previously set in 2011 by more than 100 megawatts.

State-wide, peak power consumption on Friday was 33,955 megawatts. Just as a means of local comparison; the record for peak demand in New South Wales was 14,764 MW on February 1, 2011. However, New York State’s population is around 19.57 million; compared to New South Wales’ estimated 7.3 million.

When electricity consumption spikes in hot conditions, it brings with it serious risks to infrastructure – including fire. Additionally, as transmission lines heat up, their ability to carry power decreases.

One of the major culprits contributing to peak demand on hot days is the air-conditioner. It’s these power hungry appliances that have required the development of billions of dollars worth of electricity infrastructure in Australia that is really only required on a handful of days each year. Households without air-conditioning have been subsidising those that do.

The uptake of home solar power systems in Australia doesn’t just benefit those with systems installed. Home solar has been taking the edge off peak power demand on hot days, reining in wholesale electricity prices, helping to reduce the need for new infrastructure and making what infrastructure is in place just a little bit safer from the risk of fire during extreme heat events.

New York State and City are also turning to solar power to help address some of their summertime supply issues. Earlier this month, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $54 million funding under the NY-Sun initiative for 79 large-scale solar energy projects across the state that will add 64 megawatts to the state’s solar capacity. In New York City itself, the NYC Solar America City Partnership has been working to reduce barriers to installing solar power systems.