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High Heat Strains State’s Electrical Grid

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Aug 2011 12:34pm | comments

The hot and humid Mississippi Summer is putting a major strain on the state's power grid. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the summer heat can push the power companies to the brink.

Temperatures have hovered around 100-degrees all week, sending Mississippians running for the safety and comfort of their air conditioning.

Thousands of air conditioners working hard to cool thousands homes and businesses puts a heavy stress the electrical system.

Mara Hartmann with Entergy, Mississippi biggest power company says they expect the higher demand and can increase output during the summer.

"We also have some plants that basically they are old and we only run them in the summer in times of high heat when we need that extra electricity. They may cost a little bit more. They are not as efficient to run. But they are still cheaper than buying power on the open market," Hartmann said.

But there is only so much more the company can add to the system....which is why Hartmann says customers need to take steps to reduce their power consumption by keeping the thermostat at 78-degrees, closing the blinds and using ceiling fans.

Jackson resident Toya McCurtis says she prepares for higher electric bills during the summer and tries to keep her bills in check by keeping her thermostat at 75-degrees.

"I keep it at a constant temperature. That way the bill doesn't skyrocket during the summer time. If you keep it at 75 or 76...well 76 might be a little too warm...But 75 is a good temperature in my opinion. It won't burn you up in the house, it is not too cold, it is just right" McCurtis said.

Electric officials say keeping the temperature that low raises your bill but Gerald Davis thinks keeping his home cooler helps his AC.

"They say turn it down to 78. But I think it just runs more at 78 when it is this hot outside. You kick it up to about 73, it comes on. Goes out. Comes on. Goes out. I keep mine generally about 74," Davis said.

Earlier this week, there was a brief power outage in Ridgeland...Entergy is still investigating to determine if high usage caused that outage.

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