PORTLAND, Ore. - Several days of intense heat pushed Northwest temperatures above the 100-degree mark, sending regional summertime power consumption to record highs, officials said Friday.
As the mercury soared, air conditioners and fans hummed along, breaking the Bonneville Power Administration's record for peak summertime electricity consumption three days in a row.
BPA customer power usage broke the 2014 peak of 7,861 megawatts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Wednesday being the highest. BPA's customers consumed 8,048 MW on Tuesday, 8,226 MW Wednesday and 8,208 on Thursday. For reference, just one MW can power an estimated 700 Northwest homes or 1,200 MW can power an entire city the size of Seattle.
BPA, in concert with its federal partners, prepared for the heat wave by safely delaying routine maintenance activities, ensuring the turbines in federal dams were optimized for power generation and working closely with the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear plant that generates up to 1,200 MW of clean, reliable power.
BPA transmission crews also stood ready to quickly address outages and kept in constant contact with firefighters as wildland fires across the region threatened transmission lines. However, so far, problems on BPA's transmission system have been kept to a minimum.
"Our crews have done an outstanding job preparing for this stretch of hot weather. And not just the equipment and the system, they've also been watching out for each other's safety in this sweltering heat. We've not had a single injury, heat-related or otherwise, during this event," says Robin Furrer, vice president of Transmission Field Services for the BPA. "Our mission is to keep the lights on even under the most extreme conditions. So this is a job well done."
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale electricity from 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant to 142 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA delivers power via more than 15,000 circuit miles of lines and 260 substations to 511 transmission customers. In all, BPA markets about a third of the electricity consumed in the Northwest and operates three-quarters of the region's high-voltage transmission grid. BPA also funds one of the largest fish and wildlife programs in the world, and, with its partners, pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain affordable, reliable and carbon-free electric power for the Northwest.