El Paso Electric hits power-demand peak as area swelters in heat wave


El Paso Electric officials are asking customers to conserve power as the utility hit a new high for electricity consumption this week as the El Paso-Las Cruces area continues to swelter in triple-digit heat and gets little moisture.

It’s possible the peak electric demand record could be broken again as the heat wave continues, said George De La Torre, an EPE spokesperson.

EPE is handling the increased electric usage by having all its local power plants operating, De La Torre said. So, El Paso is not likely to suffer major power outages due to the heat, he said. However, some of the power generators needed during peak demand are old and cost more to operate because they use more natural gas, he said. That will increase electric bills for customers, he said.

An El Paso Electric lineman works on electric power lines during the summer.

Also, the price of natural gas, which is passed to EPE customers, has been increasing because the heat wave is hitting much of the country’s power producers, he noted.

The utility hit an unofficial peak of 2,201 megawatts Tuesday between 5 and 6 pm, as the temperature hit 107 degrees at the El Paso International Airport and 106 degrees at the Las Cruces airport – well above normal highs of mid- to upper-90s.

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