Today was in fact the hottest day of the year for New York City, with tempatures rising to 107 degrees Fahrenheit before a storm slammed down upon the city, lowering it by 20 degrees and bringing some hail and lightening strikes along for the ride. Meanwhile, New York City power provider ConEd—which is in the middle of a particularly nasty labor dispute—pulled the trigger on a Brown-Out power management strategy for parts of Manhattan.
For those who don’t know: Power companies employ what they call a Brown-Out when energy usage levels hit unusual highs (or if energy supply is somehow short during a period of typical usage), in which they reduce the power supply to certain parts of the power grid to keep it stable and allocate power to places where it’s gone out or requires repair.
This happens on days like today, the hottest day of the year, when everyone wants to stand in front of an air conditioner or inside a fridge or dress themselves in sno-cones, resulting in what is also the highest usage of power for 2012 so far.
A spokesman at Con Edison, Allan Drury, said the demand for power on Wednesday was already higher than Tuesday’s record for 2012 of 12,455 megawatts (MW). For Wednesday, Drury said the company forecast usage would peak at about 12,950 MW. That’s still below the company’s all-time record of 13,189 MW set in July 2011. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.
The Brown-Outs went to Midtown East and Sutton Place. They’re not as worrisome as blackouts, but it’s not the best scenario New York City’s power-grid can face. Especially considering the aforementioned nasty labor dispute, which the Village Voice noted as having turned into a “class war” with no end in sight and which is dragging politicians into it now. Heat requires more power, more power presents the threats of blackouts and brownouts, and blackouts and brownouts require the help of a strong power utility workforce, which is currently short a few folks thanks to the dispute. In other words, pray for rain, or better yet, a quick resolution to ConEd’s worker problems; one of the two before the heat gets any worse.
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