Oregon Utilities Expect
by Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Despite surging weekend temperatures, utility officials said they are confident there is enough power to keep Oregon's air conditioners running.
Because the heat wave crashed on a weekend, offices were closed, which limited demand for air conditioning.
"We're expecting a peak well above normal weekday loads, but having the experience during a weekend is better overall than if it were to happen during the normal workweek," said Dave Kvamme, a PacifiCorp spokesman.
Fire officials were equally positive on Saturday, and saying that temperatures topping 100 degrees hadn't resulted in any significant fires.
"It's quiet today, which is a good thing," said Roger Peterson of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
He said a wave of lightning along the Cascade Range on Friday night hadn't produced fires but they are watching for possible fires that smolder for a time and then burst out.
On the energy front, the Bonneville Power Administration, which generates about 40 percent of the electricity consumed in the region, said it expected demand to peak Monday, topping a summertime record set June 26.
The agency has added more water to the pools behind its dams on the lower Columbia River to give it flexibility to create more power.
"For BPA, this is a stressful situation that we're taking seriously," said Scott Simms, an agency spokesman. "We're taking steps to see that we're prepared."
The Northwest generally exports energy in the summer. The anticipated electricity use for the weekend is less than is used on some winter days, utility officials said.
"It's pretty unlikely that the demand in the Northwest would exceed the generating capacity," said Steve Corson, a Portland General Electric spokesman.
PGE said its all-time high demand was on Dec. 21, 1998.
The energy picture in the Northwest has changed in recent years.
After the rolling blackouts in California and shortages in the Northwest, utilities and other power producers brought 3,000 megawatts of new generating capacity on line. That was mostly from natural gas-fired plants, said Terry Morlan, director of power planning at the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council. Utilities also have built wind farms, and energy-hungry aluminum plants shuttered during the energy crisis have never reopened.
"Today we have a pretty sizable real surplus of generating capacity, even under critical hydro conditions," Morlan said.
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