As the temperatures soar power usage spikes
LAFAYETTE - Throughout the summer season it is not unusual to see to the scrolling warnings on you television set warning you to conserve power during the hottest part of the day. Local residents are reminded and politely asked to hold off on running your washer and dryer and to turn up your thermostat to avoid rolling blackouts during peak times.
This past Thursday, Acadiana was spared rolling blackouts as people seemed to yield power companies warnings to conserve power. Threats to the region’s transmission grid seemed to have subsided by Friday. However the incident serves as a reminder that to keep those air conditioners and other essentials running we have to cut back in other areas power usage.
“In general, we were able to avoid a problem and the conservation efforts did play a role in that,” said Cleco spokeswoman Susan Broussard in an email.
The ongoing problem is not one of the capacity of our power plants to generate energy, but rather a lack of capacity on the large transmission lines. The transmission lines are power lines that carry electricity from the power plants to the distribution system of the area’s utility companies.
All area utilities share the same main transmission lines. The lack of capacity on the grid has become a problem in recent years as expansion of transmission capabilities has not increased with the population growth. The major utility companies, LUS, Cleco, and Entergy have started a $200 million dollar joint project to upgrade the grid and increase capacity. However, the improvements will not be complete until 2012 so the changes will not effect Summer 2010.
Utility companies are still encouraging people to conserve power this summer.