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Published: 7/18/2006

Area electricity called sufficient

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Despite the almost unbearably hot last several days, experts say electric power is adequate to meet the demand for air conditioning and other needs.

The electrical grid operator for 15 Midwest states, Midwest ISO, said it hit a record 131,434 megawatts demand yesterday afternoon as the temperature in Toledo again hovered in the mid-90s. But major utilities in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan said demand was strong but may not have been a record.

One megawatt is enough to power about 1,000 households, or an area such as suburban Whitehouse.

The higher demand did result in high prices for power on the spot market. An average megawatt-hour last week in Ohio cost a power supplier $40 to $50 on the spot market, but yesterday that price at one point soared to more than $300, said Mike Wilczek, editor of Megawatt Daily.

None of the local utilities called for customers to conserve energy, which fits with an earlier energy assessment indicating there is more than enough power this summer to supply a nine-state region extending from Indiana east to Delaware.

According to ReliabilityFirst, a new organization that now monitors the nine states, including Ohio, to insure the area's power needs are met, customers in that territory will need about 187,500 megawatts this month. The region is farther east and has more population than the Midwest ISO territory.

The region has power plants to generate 222,395 megawatts, or about 15 percent more than expected demand. That provides a good safety margin, said Jeff Mitchell, an engineering director for ReliabilityFirst.

In 1998, for example, the margin was about 10 percent. When storms shut down power plants and a searing heat wave ate up that margin, it forced rolling blackouts and loss of power by some industrial customers.

"A few years ago we were predicting a pretty tight margin, but that's changed," Mr. Mitchell said.

Mark Durbin, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp., a major supplier to northwest Ohio, said none of the utility's plants was out of service yesterday.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128



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