Freezing temperatures increases utility usage

Monday, January 6, 2014
Steam billows out of the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities Power Plant on Monday afternoon. Sikeston BMU set a new record for its "city load," at 78 megawatts. The normal city load will run between 40 and 50 megawatts. According to officials, the Power Plant is currently running at full capacity. Jill Bock, Staff

SIKESTON -- As temperatures outside dropped to the lowest levels in years, utility usage increased to record levels in some areas to keep residents warm.

On Monday, Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities even set a new record for its "city load," according to Doug Shaw, Sikeston BMU business manager.

"Early this morning the city load was at 78 megawatts," Shaw said. "The previous record was 77 megawatts, which was set last summer."

Shaw said the normal city load will run between 40 and 50 megawatts.

"It really took a jump," Shaw said.

By Monday afternoon the city load was at 74 megawatts.

The Power Plant is running 235 megawatts, which is full capacity, Shaw noted. Of that 235, the 74 and 78 megawatts makes up the city load, he said.

"We're hoping for for warmer weather," Shaw said.

Glen Cantrell, communications manager SEMO Electric Cooperative, said -- not surprisingly -- utility usage is also way up by customers.

"From what we can tell, based on December last year and this year, usage is up about 55 to 60 percent," Cantrell said. "We haven't had cold like this in a long time."

Highs on Monday were near 6 degrees with a low around 3. Wind chill values were as low as -12. Today's high was expected to be near 21 with a low around 19 and wind chill values as low as -7.

"It's down-right dangerous this morning, and it will be (Tuesday), too," said Rachel Trevino, meteorologist for National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

The region is under a wind chill advisory through Tuesday morning with the wind chill 10 to 25 degrees below zero at times.

For the complete story, see Tuesday's edition of the Standard Democrat.

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