Power usage reached a peak on Tuesday morning across the eastern and central United States due to customers trying to keep warm during the extreme cold, according to PJM Interconnection, which manages the wholesale supply of power in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Potomac Edison is a member of PJM, and spokesman Todd Meyers says the utility has managed to provide the power to its customers, most of whom have electric heat. "It has been holding up remarkably well so far," he says.
But PJM is asking its member utilities to ask their customers to voluntarily conserve electricity any way they can. Meyers says that could include reducing the setting on your thermostat to the lowest setting comfortable, and to use large appliances, such as clothes washers and dryers, and dishwashers, during off peak hours. "The electric supplies are tight throughout the whole region which makes up PJM and that's 13 states and the District of Columbia. So it's a widespread area that they're asking for this conservation," he says.
PJM serves Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington DC. While many of those states are known for very harsh winters, Meyers says the temperatures we've been experiencing recently are unusual. "This is a very unique type of cold, very unprecedented for at least the last 20 years," he says.
The National Weather Service says record lows were recorded at two of the region's major airports on Tuesday. BWI Thurgood Marshal International had a temperature of three-degrees early Tuesday, while Dulles International recorded a low of one-degree above. Those readings break the previous recorded lows of eight-degrees at both airports in 1988.