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Blazing heat leads to new KUA record for use of electricity

Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer

You don’t need Kissimmee Utility Authority to tell you that it’s hot.

Real hot. “Stupid hot” as one local TV meteorologist called it Thursday morning.

Power meters all over the county are whizzing to keep indoor spaces cool. KUA knows it by looking at their meters.

Osceola County’s primary utility said a new all-time system peak for demand record for electricity use on Tuesday.

Then, it happened again Wednesday and Thursday.

KUA recorded an instantaneous system peak of 342 megawatts (MW) at 4:32 p.m. Tuesday, when the temperature was recorded at 97 degrees. The old peak of 338.8 MW was set on Aug. 10, 2007.

The old record lasted seven years; the new one lasted 24 hours. Wednesday, KUA recorded an instantaneous system peak of 345.4 MW at 4:50 p.m., then saw the peak hit 349.4 MW at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, the highest demand for electricity in the utility’s 113-year history.

Lillian Colman, 6, of St. Cloud cools off at Lakefront Park in St. Cloud. News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery

Lillian Colman, 6, of St. Cloud cools off at Lakefront Park in St. Cloud. News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery

KUA spokesperson Chris Gent said that while users should try to cut back consumption to help manage their own bills, the utility will be able to meet the demand, even with record-setting consumption for two days straight.

“Cane Island Power Park produces 710 megawatts, enough to power Kissimmee and more than a dozen other Florida cities. Generating capacity is not an issue,” he said. “Over the past several years, substations and line upgrades have been completed to handle energy demands of this size. We still have some capacity built in the system. The generating capacity statewide is more than adequate to meet the energy needs, so residents shouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of brownouts.”

KUA also is a member of a 13-city power consortium, Florida Municipal Power Agency, and also in a power pool through FMPA with Lakeland Electric and Orlando Utilities Commission to ensure an adequate supply of electricity, Gent said.

The utility offered up some energy-saving tips this week that can reduce energy costs, such as:

  • Set thermostats to the highest comfortable setting (KUA recommends 80 degrees), as raising the living temperature two degrees can cut cooling costs by up to 5 percent.
  • Clean or replace air conditioner filters monthly to make those units, up there with refrigeration as a home or business’ top energy users, run more efficiently.
  • Use portable or window-mounted AC units to cool one room, and turn off ceiling fans in unused rooms as those cool people and not rooms.
  • Close blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest part of the day to block the sun’s heat.
  • Set pool pumps and automatic sprinklers to run in off-peak hours.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said high pressure at all levels over most of the Florida Peninsula — essentially a dome of hot, stable, sinking air that suppresses the usual afternoon thunderstorm formation — has been the main reason why those cooling rains have been so scattered this week.

“Rain chances should be returning to normal by Sunday, so we have a couple more days to endure this,” said Bob Winner, a NWS forecaster in Melbourne. “We’ve gone from what was such a wet pattern to this.”