CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Unusually high temperatures caused the company that oversees the electricity grid operator in much of the eastern United States to call for a reduction in power usage Wednesday.PJM Interconnection, a company that manages the electrical transmission system for 13 states and Washington, D.C., asked customers in AEP's service area who are part a "demand response" program to reduce their electrical usage in order avoid a potential blackout.Demand response customers are called upon to reduce their power usage when the electricity grid operator deems it necessary.Commercial customers who reduced their energy usage, including Charleston Newspapers on Wednesday, agreed to do so beforehand. The companies contract with a utility company or a third-party company, which contracts with PJM, said Ray Dotter, a spokesman for the company.Customers that agree to reduce their energy usage when called upon are paid to do so.
"[It's like an] all-volunteer army," Dotter said. "You don't have to volunteer, but when you do, you have to show up."Unseasonably hot temperatures meant that PJM set a new record for September by meeting demand for 144,370 megawatts, according to the company. Last year, the September peak demand was 129,959 megawatts. The peak this July was 157,509 megawatts."If you look at the summer, only July had a higher demand," Dotter said. "Demand was lower in July than it was in August. It's very unusual. If you compare last September to this September, the [difference is] 14,000 megawatts. That's like a decent-sized city."Dotter said the agency does not expect to call for a reduction in usage today ."The weather forecast and the meteorologist are expecting temperatures to be lower tomorrow than they are today," Dotter said.Reach Lori Kersey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1240.