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All Major Power Companies Break Consumption Records

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It looks like thousands of people were using their air conditioning or finding some way to keep cool from the high temperatures on Tuesday. Plus, officials say Wednesday's temperature could reach as high as 104 degrees.

Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, PWC reported another record use of 40,066.3 mwh -- 20 mwh higher than the previous 2002 record. To help put it in perspective, a company spokesman said its usage was like adding another 7,500 homes to its system -- or the equivalent of 200,000 100 watt bulbs.

Progress Energy set a usage record on Tuesday. Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, its 1.4 million customers used 12,232 megawatt hours of electricity. That number broke the previous record of 12,004 set on Jan. 24, 2005. The previous record for summer usage was 11,977 mwh in July 2002.

Duke Energy did not release its numbers, but a spokesman said that on Tuesday the energy company "experienced an unprecedented demand for electricity with customers using record amounts" that surpassed the previous record set in 2002.

Tuesday's high at RDU was 101 degrees. The record for the date was 100 degrees. Today's temperature could be as high as 104, which would break the record of 100 degrees which was set on July 27, 1949.

The highest temperature ever recorded at RDU was 105 degrees. The normal high at this time of the year should be 89 degrees.

Air quality officials issued a health notice Tuesday for Code Orange ozone levels in metropolitan areas across North Carolina on Wednesday, including the Triangle.

This forecast means people who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moderate exertion outdoors in the afternoon. Sensitive groups include children who are active outside, people who work or exercise outdoors and those with asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Air quality officials are asking North Carolina residents to help reduce air pollution by taking some of the following actions:

  • Limit driving by riding the bus, walking, bicycling or postponing trips.
  • Avoid idling for long periods of time, stay within speed limits, combine errands to reduce the number of small trips, and use vehicles with higher fuel economies.
  • Conserve electricity by setting thermostats at the highest comfortable temperature and turning off appliances that are not in use.
  • Postpone lawn mowing until after 6 p.m. or use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment.
  • At WakeMed in Raleigh, doctors treated at least 20 heat-related cases on Tuesday. There have also been two heat-related deaths: a farm worker in Person County and one in Harnett County.

    The hot weather is even taking a toll on emergency workers and firefighters.

    "When we got done today, my shirt -- I could wring water out of it. It was that bad," firefighter Nick Murray said.

    The city of Fayetteville wants to help people who do not have air conditioning to stay cool Wednesday. The Cumberland County Department of Social Services will be open for people with respiratory problems and women with small children. The department will be open from Noon to 7 p.m.

    Grace Tabernacle Church, Cumberland United Methodist Church, Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church and Peace Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville will also be open for people.

    Relief from the heat could come Friday, when temperatures are forecast to drop to more seasonable upper 80s and lower 90s.