Record demand: Cold weather peak tops PowerSouth’s 2014 high

Published 1:50 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

While this week’s frigid temperatures did not dip to a record January low for Alabama, PowerSouth observed an all-time record system demand as customers of the utilities it serves kicked up the heat.

With lows hovering around 20 degrees throughout PowerSouth’s distribution areas, on Thursday morning, between 6 and 7 a.m., there was a system demand of 2,455 megawatt-hours, Baynard Ward, corporate communications manager, said. A megawatt-hour is a million watts of electricity used for one hour.

Prior to this week’s all-time system peak, PowerSouth’s record peak demand was 2,400 megawatt-hours, on Jan. 7, 2014, between 6 and 7 a.m. This occurred during the Polar Vortex.

Andalusia’s record low for January is 13 degrees, recorded in 2014, according to data recorded by weather.

PowerSouth is the wholesale power provider for 20 distribution members in Alabama and northwest Florida, including the City of Andalusia, the City of Opp, and Covington Electric. These municipalities and cooperatives primarily serve residential customers, who use electricity to heat their homes, primarily in the early morning hours.

Regardless of weather, Ward said, PowerSouth’s generating plants and energy control center are staffed around-the-clock to monitor the generation and transmission system.

The company conducts both long-term and short-term planning to predict future demand requirements. The forecasts use historical energy usage, weather, growth, and other variables to project energy needs over the long term, Ward said.

During extreme cold weather conditions, Ward said, each plant site takes steps to prevent equipment from freezing and other proactive measures to ensure energy reliability.

Prior to Thursday, the most recent system peak occurred on Jan. 2, when demand hit 2,312 megawatt-hours.