Maritime Electric hits highest summer load ever recorded
Humidity causes air conditioner use to spike, Maritime Electric spokesperson says
With P.E.I. being under a heat warning for most of the last three weeks, Maritime Electric customers have been using their air conditioners and heat pumps more to try to cool off.
The company hit its highest summer load on record on July 25, when it peaked at 219 megawatts around 6 p.m.
It's the first time Maritime Electric's grid has used more than 200 megawatts in the summer months since 2015, and compares to a peak of 280 last winter.
'When that humidity hits'
But it's the humidity that really drives increased use of air conditioning, says spokesperson Kim Griffin.
"If it's just a hot summer day, a lot of Islanders aren't really turning on their air conditioning. But when that humidity hits, that's what we're seeing as the big difference in usage."
The humidex has soared lately and Griffin said peak usage is usually around suppertime as people get home from work.
'Our system is strong'
Although the grid is under more demand these days, Griffin said there's no need to worry about the system's capacity, since they now have two extra submarine cables in place.
"We do get those questions sometimes. People see it. They wonder. We're using so much more electricity right now in the summer during this humidity, but for us it's really the air conditioning and humidity correlation," she said.
"For us, it's certainly a concern, but our system is strong."
'Influx of heat pumps'
More Islanders are using heat pumps than ever. Griffin said an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 customers are using them, and that's just the ones they know about.
"Certainly the influx of heat pumps is making a difference on P.E.I. and people are complaining a lot about the heat," she said.
"We say to our customers, make sure you're getting a properly installed heat pump, make sure it's efficient, make sure you get it cleaned once a year."
People should not try to install the pumps themselves, she added.
Islanders thinking more about alternative energy
There are several reasons for the spike in heat pump usage, Griffin said, including people moving to smaller areas and thinking about alternate heating sources.
"They're really spending a lot more time trying to figure out what they want to use. It's really helped with the government-incentive programs as well, that Islanders are seeing that and seeing the benefit as an option."
The company is "very supportive" of those incentives as long as people are getting a quality heat pump and using them efficiently, Griffin said.
Electric grid has 'felt the heat'
"Whether it be a heat pump or any other source of electric device, they just need to make sure that they're being efficient with it and using it properly, and when you don't need it, don't have it on," Griffin said.
"Our system has certainly felt the heat this year. It's been one of the hottest, most humid summers in the past number of years."
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With files from John Robertson