Heat wave leads to record summer electricity use in Portland area

Foul air: Smoke and heat smother Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – The historic heat wave in the Portland area the past three days led to record summertime energy use.

Portland General Electric and the Bonneville Power Administration both reported new records when temperatures reached into the triple digits.

PGE said the new summer record of 3,976 megawatts was set at 6 p.m. on Thursday. It was 105 degrees at that time, the warmest it’s been since 2009.

PGE says the new record is in part due to an increase of air conditioning systems in Portland area homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70 percent of area homes have air conditioning.

Related: Thanks to BC wildfires, Portland's air worse than Shanghai, Beijing, Mexico City

While Thursday set a summer record, the overall record for PGE electricity use was 4,073 megawatts, which was set on Dec. 21, 1998 when it was 16 degrees.

For comparison, one megawatt can power an estimated 700 Northwest homes, and 1,200 megawatts can power a city the size of Seattle, according to the Bonneville Power Administration.

The BPA also reported summer record electricity use during the heat wave. They said for the first time ever, more than 8,000 megawatts were consumed, which occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The peak use of 8,226 megawatts came on Wednesday.

Electricity use will likely remain high as temperatures are expected to stay in the 90s through next week.

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