How Idaho Power Is Bracing For Record Breaking Energy Demand

Jun 24, 2015

Credit Kerry Lannert / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Power sees the highest demand for electricity in the summer when people crank up their air conditioners. And with a long stretch of very hot weather in store, that demand is expected to be very high.

The utility that powers most of southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon set a new record for energy consumption just two years ago in July. Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin says that record could be surpassed soon.

“If the weather forecast holds we may set new peak demand records early next week,” Bowlin says. “Monday, Tuesday,Wednesday – those are certainly days we’ve identified as potential new records.”

Idaho Power would rather not break its energy use record, so Bowlin urges customers to do things like run big appliances at night and keep their blinds closed during the day. 

But he says the company is preparing for unusually high demand. Bowlin says the company is making arrangements with other utilities to buy extra power in case it’s needed. Unlike southern Idaho, some places have systems designed for peak demand in the winter and might have power to spare.

He says Idaho Power is also firing up two natural gas power plants near Mountain Home that are quiet much of the year.

“They’re called peaker plants and that’s because they’re designed to be used during times of peak electricity demand,” he says.

Idaho Power also has agreements with some customers to reduce their electricity during peak times. For example, the company can reduce power to a farmer’s irrigation system or a manufacturer’s machines. Bowlin says they’re giving those customers a heads up in case a power reduction is necessary.

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