New York Uses Record Electricity As City Melts Under Unprecedented Heatwave

As New Orleans battles historic floods, the heat wave gripping the Tri-State area continued on Sunday, with the temperature at JFK airport hitting a high of 95F degrees, setting a new daily record and eclipsing the old record high of 93F set in 2003.  When accounting for humidity, the heat index rose to as high as 105 to 110 degrees in some spots.

The unprecedented heatwave meant air conditioners were cranked up to the max, and as a result Con Ed broke a new record for weekend New York City electricity consumption at 1 p.m. Saturday, with a record 11,664 megawatts of electricity usage; the previous weekend record was 11,533 megawatts July 23, 2011. The utility attributed demand to “sweltering heat and humidity that is baking the area.

Con Edison said Saturday it was reducing voltage by 5 percent in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods to protect equipment and maintain service. The area includes: Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Midwood, Flatbush and East Flatbush.

PSEG customers without power on Long Island and in New Jersey totaled 950. Connecticut Eversource customers without power totaled 1,133 in eastern sections of the state.

As the following chart from Reuters show, air conditioning demand has already been well off the long-term average, and is expected to continue at this pace.

It's not just New York and its surroundings: overall US aircondition usage has been some 11% higher than the norm so far in 2016, hinting at some bumper utility earnings results for the third quarter.


Sadly for New Yorkers, it will not get colder any time soon: the Tri-State area is not expected to get a break from the heat for a couple of days, as the high is expected to be 95 on Sunday and 90 on Monday, which would continue the heat wave for five days. According to CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock, there may be some relief late Monday into Tuesday.

However, that can’t come soon enough for New Yorkers who lost power, as there are more than 4,000 outages for New York City and Westchester County, according to Con Edison.

Meanwhile, the city is literally melting: on Utica Avenue in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, a melted power line next to a gas station came down sizzling, and without warning. “I was opening the car door to take something out of the car and the wire just fell,” said Christina Morrison of East Flatbush. “It just dropped — just like that.”

Families were struggling to deal with the heat around the corner from the East Flatbush gas station. “There’s no AC for me,” said John Leger. “I fry like a chicken inside a stove.”

The heat is putting a big strain on the power supply. In Jackson Heights, Queens, residents escaped their hot, dark homes and jammed into a city bus that had air conditioning on high, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported. “I felt like as if I was getting suffocated by the heat,” said Joshua Lovato.

Due to the oppressive heat, the city’s public pools are staying open longer and the 500 cooling centers are open through Monday evening. 

Continued heating deals mean that the already frail power grid may simply snap. Con Edison isn’t the only power company reporting outages. JCP&L report more than 4,000 customers are without power; Orange and Rockland Counties with about 1,900; and PSEG Long Island said it has about 1,300 without outages.

The NYC mayor urged New Yorkers to stay warm:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging residents to take steps to conserve energy, for example setting air conditioning units higher than normal. "Get those temperatures to 78 degrees. When I go into city hall, I feel it; it's not as nice as when it is cooler. But everyone is going about their work, everyone is fine, and it is going to help us protect ourselves over the next few days," de Blasio said.

While it is hoped the heatwave will fade by the end of the week, Wall Street economists are already preparing notes in which they blame the upcoming (ongoing) weakness in retail spending on the scorching heat.