According to El Paso Electric Company (EPE) officials on Monday, July 13, customers set a new peak demand for electricity smashing the previous peak record established in 2019.
The new peak demand for electricity – approximately 2,173 megawatts (MW), 9.5% or 188 MW higher than the 2019 peak – occurred between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. as afternoon highs hit 110°F and became the hottest afternoon high so far in 2020.
At that time, El Paso region was under a 7-day heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service office in Santa Teresa, New Mexico and customers set new peak demand records nine times during that same period.
“Meeting the energy needs of our customers in a safe and reliable manner is our number one priority. This year’s record-breaking increase in peak demand proves the need to further invest in and automate our grid, continue our capital investment program, and move forward with new planned generation to meet the increasing energy needs of our customers,” shares EPE interim CEO Adrian J. Rodriguez.
This is the highest level of energy demand growth on record and it also surpasses EPE’s 2020 peak demand forecast and reaches peak demand levels that were expected in 2026.
“It is a credit to our dedicated crews that modified operations and schedules to ensure the highly utilized generating facilities and overall grid was able to deliver the needed power to our customers as well as mitigate power outages,” EPE officials added.
Typical factors that lead to new peak demands include annual customer growth of 1.6%, continued adoption and conversion of refrigerated air conditioning from evaporated cooling, as well as increasingly hot weather with sustained heat.
This year, due to the pandemic, and government issued shelter in place orders, more people are staying and working at home, so usage per residential customer has increased.
A new annual peak has been set by EPE customers in 19 of the last 21 years (see chart attached).
“By 2023 we expect to add 320 MW of generating capacity from large solar facilities and a new state-of-the-art air-cooled natural gas-fired generation unit. One utility-scale solar facility will also utilize battery storage, a first for our utility. While we prepare for future growth, we are cognizant that an increase in energy use by our customers can also mean higher electricity bills. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, we ask our customers to contact us if they find themselves facing financial hardships during this time. We have financial options and numerous programs available to assist our customers,” Rodriguez added.
To learn more about payment assistance and options, customers can contact the El Paso Electric Customer Care Team by email at CustomerCare@epelectric.com or by phone at (915) 543-5970 or (575) 526-5555.