PJM Sets New Winter Peak Load Record

Author: Velocity Suite Power Markets Analyst


PJM Interconnection established a new record-high for winter peak demand in 2015. On February 20th, at 8:00 AM EST total hourly load for PJM was reported at 143,100 MWs, outpacing the previous winter peak of 140,500 MWs seen in January of 2014 and marking the highest hourly load since September of 2013 when load was reported at 143,300 MWs. For comparison, the record peak summer load for PJM was reported on July 21st, 2011 at 158,000 MWs. As a Summer-peaking system, PJM typically has to meet higher loads in the summer as consumers activate air-conditioners and other cooling devices that use more electricity.

Total load with formatting

This new winter-peak comes as no surprise to weather enthusiasts, as the upswing in consumer demand can be directly attributable to frigid temperatures in the region. As temperatures drop, consumers must compensate by increasing thermostat temperatures and running heating systems for longer periods of time. This dependent relationship becomes apparent when looking at the temperatures leading up to February 20th.

PJM Daily Min Temp

Temperatures in the PJM interconnection oscillated around 0 degrees through February, reaching a minimum temperature of -29 degrees on the morning of February 20th. Looking at the hourly dry bulb temperatures leading up to February 20th, temperatures plateaued just before 8:00 AM EST that morning.

PJM Hourly dry bulb temp w formatting

Focusing in on just the 19th and 20th of February further accentuates the correlation between extreme temperatures and total system load. The daily load cycle sees a morning peak and an evening peak because consumers are generally using the most electricity before and after the workday. As temperatures started to drop in the afternoon of the 19th, evening peak load hit 140,344 MW at 8:00 PM EST. Concurrently, the average temperature in PJM at 8:00 PM EST was 5 degrees above zero (F). Temperatures continued to fall until 6:00 AM EST on the morning of February 20 and remained below zero until after 8:00 AM EST, aligning perfectly with the morning routine for many working consumers. As people turned lights and televisions on, and perhaps turned up their thermostats a degree or two, system load continued to rise to a pinnacle of 143,100 MW at 8:00 AM EST.

PJM Temp vs. Load

When shown graphically, the correlation between climate and demand is apparent. Readers may recall the “polar vortex” seen in this region during the 2013-2014 winter season that attributed to a similar load spike and caused concern over the possibility of blackouts in the area. PJM stated that there was no threat of blackouts as a result of this load spike due in part to reliability programs established in response to the “polar vortex” seen in 2014.

Within the Velocity Suite, a variety of data can be manipulated allowing various types of analyses. In addition to load and temperature data, the Suite contains energy pricing data, power infrastructure data, and a plethora of information regarding energy markets. If you would like more information on the types of data available within the Velocity Suite, please Contact Velocity Support.


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