Monday, October 3, 2022

Energy usage surges to record level with heat

August 9, 2001

Staying cool takes more than just a good pair of sunglasses and a leather jacket.

It takes energy.

Electricity use jumped recently as Michigan residents battled summer heat with fans and air conditioners.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy set a record for power usage with 7,780 megawatts from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. last Wednesday.

About 2,000 customers of the Lansing Board of Water and Light lost power for about an hour, also last Wednesday, when the heat index rose to 105 degrees.

John Strickler, spokesman for the Board of Water and Light, said power outages happen frequently, especially with hot weather.

“It is sort of like when you plug too many toasters into your house,” he said.

But customers shouldn’t worry, he said. The plant has enough power to serve it - the problem lies with consumers who are poor at energy conservation.

Power outages like the previous one happen when individual circuits become hot.

“It could (happen) anytime you get exceptionally hot weather, you can overload your circuits,” Strickler said.

The possibility of similar problems occurring is possible, but Strickler said there are ways customers can prevent it.

Strickler suggested customers turn their air conditioner’s temperature dial up four or five degrees while they are not at home.

Closing drapes and shades on faces of the house where the sun shines would also keep temperatures down.

He also suggested leaving fans on to circulate the air through the house, putting less of a strain on the air conditioning.

“We could have similar problems this week as the weather continues to get hot,” he said.

But according to the National Weather’s Web site, East Lansing should experience a drop in temperatures this week. The forecast shows a high of only 76 degrees for Saturday.

While customers could put themselves in the dark for using too much energy, Doug MacDonald, plant maintenance engineer for MSU’s Simon Power Plant, said the plant will be going strong.

“We certainly would not anticipate it happening,” MacDonald said.

The buildings on campus, he said, are fed by two different circuits. When one burns out, the other takes over.

The circuits are old, he said, but are not undersized.

Right now, MacDonald said, the plant is running close to its record high at 51 megawatts.

“We can’t tell you how much (energy is being used), but we know that it has increased,” he said.

Students, however, might not be the ones using excessive amounts of energy.

Biochemistry senior Sarah Zawacki said she is moving into an apartment with air conditioning, but doesn’t plan on using it much.

“I wouldn’t run it if I wasn’t home because it is bad for the environment, plus it is an extra two bucks, but mostly for the environment,” she said.

But issues of rising energy costs might be the reason why many students use other methods to keep cool.

Psychology junior Holly Herta said air conditioning just costs too much.

“I just take it easy, drink ice water and complain,” she said.


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