Conventional wisdom says that a stubborn recession such as the one we’re experiencing will result in lower demand for electricity and other fuels. But this past Tuesday, the peak demand for electricity set a new record of 115,723 megawatts on the PJM Interconnection, the regional power grid shared by New Jersey and parts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and six other states. The previous highest demand recorded for any day in December was 113,593 megawatts in 2008. Tuesday’s rate of electricity usage exceeded the projected daily peak for this winter of 114,746 megawatts.
Enormous demand for electricity is atypical in the winter months, since most homes in the northern part of the country heat with gas or oil. The need to power air conditioners in the summer is normally what puts the grid into high gear. PJM’s winter demand record was 118,800 megawatts set on a day in February 2007.