Dominion Virginia Power says customers served by its transmission network broke records dating back at least 11 years for electricity usage this past summer, a result of "persistent hot and humid weather."
For the three-month period from July 1 to Sept. 30, the utility recorded electrical usage of more than 28.2 million megawatt hours for Dominion customers and those served by its transmission system, an area that encompasses most of the state with the exception of points west and south of Lexington, Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said Monday.
The previous quarterly high, according to records dating to 2005, was just over 27.3 million megawatt hours during the third quarter of 2010.
Since then, the company has added 126,000 customers to its service area, which now totals 2.5 million.
A megawatt hour equals 1 million watts of electricity generated continuously for one hour.
"It was not a summer of extreme high temperatures, but it was very hot and humid for days on end and that drove demand," said Robert M. Blue, president of Richmond-based Dominion Virginia Power.
"Our integrated system of power stations and transmission lines were able to meet the increased demands reliably and effectively."
July and August usage set a two-month record. Customers used just over 20 million megawatt hours. The previous two-month record was about 19.4 million megawatt hours, set in July and August 2010.
August set a record for most electricity used in a single month, with nearly 10.02 million megawatt hours used, up from the 10.01 million megawatt hours record set during the "polar vortex" in January 2014.
"We are now seeing peak demands for electricity in both the summer and winter," Blue said. "For many years, our all-time peaks were occurring in late afternoons of the summer months.
"Now we also are seeing record demand in early mornings of winter days. That makes our balanced portfolio of generation sources all the more important."
The spike in demand forced the company to press antiquated coal-fired units at its Yorktown Power Station into service on 20 days in July and August. Those units do not meet current air emissions regulations but are allowed under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative order to ensure reliability.
Dominion has proposed a transmission line over the James River from its Surry Nuclear Power Station that it says will alleviate the problem, though it will not be ready by the time the Yorktown units are retired because of permitting issues. However, preservationists have opposed this line and its towers because of the impact on the view from Historic Jamestowne and other landmarks.
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