The operator of the regional power grid that includes southern New Jersey said Wednesday that it is ready to meet electricity demands this summer.
But with the economy under stress and consumers cutting back, those demands are not expected to be as high as last year.
PJM Interconnection, whose transmission grid spans 12 other states and Washington D.C., is projecting peak electricity use this summer of 134,430 megawatts, a 1.4 percent decrease from 136,310 megawatts last year. The organization says it is prepared - it has about 165,200 megawatts of power available.
"Power supplies should be adequate to meet consumers' demands," said Michael Kormos, PJM's senior vice president of operations.
The highest recorded use of electricity on the PJM grid was 144,644 megawatts in 2006. One megawatt is enough to power 800 to 1,000 homes, according to PJM.
Kormos said that a lower demand is the result, in part, of a slower economy. When money is tight, consumers - including those in the high-demand industrial sector - will end up using less electricity as a way to save.
But PJM remains mindful about growing electricity use. In 2007, it gave approval to Pepco Holdings Inc. to build a 230-mile power line that is supposed to stretch from Virginia to southern New Jersey and improve transmission.
How much consumers end up using this summer also will depend on temperatures, as the hotter weather usually forces more people to blast their air conditioners. PJM bases its forecast on typical peak weather conditions recorded over the past 35 years.
In Atlantic City last year, the average temperatures in June and July were 74.9 degrees and 78.3 degrees, respectively, slightly above normal, said Patrick O'Hara, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly.
Meanwhile, August's average temperature was 73.3 degrees, slightly below normal.
O'Hara said the climate forecasts for those three months in 2009 are expected to be "slightly above normal."
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