State News

Day 2 of 100+ Heat Brings Plea to Curb Energy Demand

Posted August 8, 2007
Updated August 9, 2007

— Power companies and state leaders asked residents and businesses to conserve energy Thursday as the heat wave continued and temperatures went into triple digits for a second day in a row.

At 1 p.m., thermometers were reading 100 or higher at Raleigh, Fayetteville, Lumberton, Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids, the National Weather Service reported.

Even the coast was hot, with 89 at Cape Hatteras and 93 in Manteo.

Asheville, which hit 92 on Wednesday, was at 89 in the early afternoon readings, the Weather Service said.

The weather service had put more than two-thirds of North Carolina under a heat warning or heat advisory for Thursday.

The heat index, or how the air feels because of the combination of heat and humidity, was expected to exceed 110 degrees.

Air quality officials issued a Code Orange Health Notice for the Triangle Wednesday and predicted that air pollution will be worse on Thursday.

A Code Orange means that air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups, which include children who are active outside, people working or exercising outdoors, and those with heart conditions and respiratory ailments.

Officials recommended that sensitive groups reduce outdoor activity and physical activity in the afternoon, when ozone levels are highest.

Outdoor burning is illegal during a Code Orange, and officials also urged people to limit driving to reduce air pollution.

The heat piled onto a day of high temperatures on Wednesday.

Raleigh reached a high of 102 degrees, while Rocky Mount saw 103-degree weather. Sanford, Southern Pines and Lumberton tied for a regional high of 106 degrees.

Grandfather Mountain experienced its second day of record heat, setting a new daily record high of 80 degrees.

Gov. Mike Easley urged residents  to set their thermostats to between 78 and 80 degrees and ordered that at nearly all state agencies.

"If every customer will adjust the thermostat up to two degrees, it will help ensure that we do not have any blackouts anywhere across the state," Easley said.

"This is just a small price the state can pay to help conserve energy on hot days like this," said McKinley Wooten, deputy secretary for the state Department of Administration.

Some homeowners said they're already taking additional measures to conserve energy.

"I just think, overall, we need to be more conservative with our energy – cutting up the thermostat, running ceiling fans, not using the oven anymore than we have to," homeowner Carol Bedwell said.

North Carolina Electric Cooperatives, a network that services 2.5 million customers, most of them in rural areas of the state, hit record usage at 2,967 megawatt hours around 6 p.m. That usage broke the previous record of 2,869 megawatt hours set Jan. 19, 2005, a spokeswoman said.

Earlier, the network asked customers to turn off unnecessary electronics and to use electricity and air conditioning sparingly.

"That's what everybody needs to concentrate on," agreed Carol's husband, Robert Bedwell. "When they're not using things, turn them off, TVs and so forth."

Large and small local air-conditioning repair service companies told WRAL the number of service calls they receive has increased dramatically this week.

Calls to The Service Experts tripled, from an average of less than 50 to a 115 in one day, the company reported. Smaller companies, Pillar & Sons and Ellis Heating & Air Conditioning, said their calls have jumped by between 40 and 50 percent.

The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh was forced to close its doors to visitors at 1 p.m. after its air-conditioning unit malfunctioned. Museum officials said they planned to open as usual on Thursday, but suggested visitors to call ahead in the morning at 919-733-7450.

Energy officials warned about the possibility of outages caused by too-high demand on systems.

"With more people and higher heat, we have the formula for high demand," said Jane Pritchard, speaking for the cooperatives. "We're trying to be prudent."

In Knightdale, 9,200 Progress Energy customers lost power Wednesday afternoon in a blackout that officials blamed on high temperatures and high demand.

Nearly 500 Progress Energy customers also experienced sporadic outages in parts of western Cary.

Progress Energy has experienced near-record demand from its 1.2 million North Carolina customers for the past several days, and its system is being strained, said company spokeswoman Tanya Evans. Progress Energy set its previous record in July 2005.

"We are hoping to avoid brownouts or blackouts. That is probably a worst-case scenario and several steps down the road," Evans said.

Progress Energy asked several large industrial customers to curtail their use during peak hours, as well as urging residents to conserve energy.

Duke Energy did not ask customers for conservation but suggested that people monitor their usage. The utility missed its all-time high usage by 103 megawatts Tuesday, officials said. The all-time high of 18,687 megawatts was set on July 27, 2005.

Spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said the company would not know until Thursday if it had hit record usage Wednesday.

"We're meeting the power demand, and we've got the adequate supply," Sheehan said. "But any conservation that people can realize certainly betters our situation."

Duke provides service to 1.8 million retail customers in North Carolina and is the largest electricity supplier in North Carolina and South Carolina. Raleigh-based Progress serves a total of 3.1 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

Record demand also was a possibility for Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Power, which asked its 2 million customers in northeastern North Carolina and Virginia "to alleviate excess demand on the grid," spokesman David Botkins said.

All the utilities said they should be able to manage the spike in usage.


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  • Steve Crisp Aug 9, 2007

    It is my opinion that the sky is purple. What, you don't believe me? Well, that's my perception and there is nothing you can do to change my mind. In fact, I am so sure the sky is purple that I will enact legislation to dictate so and if you still don't believe it, you will fail your schoolwork.

    That is exactly how a liberal argues. I will listen to any old silly liberal viewpoint. And if they actually back it up with facts and figures, I might actually accept their liberal conclusion. But I never see data. All I see is opinion. Now granted it is difficult to construct a full argument in 1,000 words, but yo ucan use multiple posts or create a blog which I think is unlimited. Yet no liberal ever does. Well one actully did on here once and I am stil trying to get to UNC or Duke library to check out the citations.

    Then if I don't blindly accept the liberal's inane conclusion without justification, I am the one who is narrowminded, right?

  • bcc Aug 9, 2007

    Why are you so worried about the midwest vistas if you don't give rip about wildlife and shorelines. Another contradiction. I'm completely frustrated with you, and can see that no matter what I post, you won't listen. Good bye.

  • Steve Crisp Aug 9, 2007

    Why are we dependent of foreign oil? It's because we can't drill for our own in ANWR, off our coasts, and on vast stretches of our western states. And we can't because of eco-politics and the nutjobs that espouse those radical views. We have more natural gas off our own coast than we can ever use, but we can't get it here because no one wants a receiving facility in their own neighborhood. Even so, we aren't allowed to capture it because some ignorant fish may suffer. We have a thousand mile long ridge line of mountains where the wind blows almost all the time that should be lined with mills from Maine to Georgia. But no, some bird might get hurt. And like I said before, biomass is great. You willing to give up a lot of those midwest vistas for farmland?

    Everything we try and do to reduce our foreign dependence is shot out of the water via politics, and if it should make it though the political process, it is tied up in court for decades. And next...opinions...More...

  • bcc Aug 9, 2007

    So, you refuse to acknowledge that you were wrong in stating that conservation and efficiency is an important component of energy independance?

  • Steve Crisp Aug 9, 2007

    This is entirely a political issue. And yes, we need clean air and water to survive, but not at the expense of comfortable human existence. Recall that the whole story here involves a plea by the governor and power companies to conserve energy to prevent blackouts. But it is politicians, in league or under the pressure of ecolological wackos, who have prevented those power companies from building power plants and distribution lines. Do you know what single thing in Raleigh causes the most power outages? It is tree limbs shorting out power lines. And do you know why those limbs hit those lines? It is because our idiotic city leaders mandate a five foot cut back at most on tree limbs, not 10 to fifteen feet like most other communities. So they short out -- all due to politics.

    What's next...oh yes, foreign dependency. More...

  • Steve Crisp Aug 9, 2007

    And if you want to see something really cool, go check out the one hour Wake County radar loop. That is an amazing outflow boundry creeping in from the east caused by a thunderhead in Wilson. Very cool. For those reading this later, try to get the one hour loop around 6:30 pm.

  • bcc Aug 9, 2007

    First of all Steve, politics has nothing to do with this debate. Why always going with the liberal front? You clearly stated that conservation is not a component of dealing with our energy issues. You're wrong.

    There is no simple answer. Renewables, biomass, additional exploration of fossil fuels, utilizing of coal to produce liquid fuels, and conservation are all part of our effort to reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Surely a man of your knowledgable stature can see this.

    If not, then you're just being stubborn and argumentative. Also, I'm not a tree hugger, but clearly you must agree that protecting our planet from excess pollution and disruption is an important issue. We live on this planet and need clean water and air to survive. For God's sake man, can't you at least accept one sensible persons opinion?

  • Nancy Aug 9, 2007

    Rain down here in Fuquay right now, not much, but it's straight down rain, maybe it will last a while.

  • Steve Crisp Aug 9, 2007

    Where are the contridictions? And where have you presented anything that I would possibly agree with? This is the whole problem with liberals. If you have a measured and reasoned viewpoint on something, backed up with research and data, they think they can come in, spout a viewpoint without substantiation, and we're all supposed to be openminded enough to accept what they say as gospel truth.

    If you have an issue with my facts, refute them. If you have an issue with my conclusions, present your conclusions backed up with your own facts. But all you liberal folks have are ad hominum attacks and the ability to deride people who disagree with you.

  • bcc Aug 9, 2007

    You've contradicted yourself numerous times in this thread. For someone who considers himself a know all, you miss many points and evade others opinions. Why?

    I agree with you on some of your expert opinions, but you can't except anything anyone else says, unless it supports your views. Sad really.