It’s officially hot when…

…the power company asks a customer to cut back on using the very thing they make money selling.

A little birdie tells me that Pepco asked a local university to cut their load by 1500KW. Assuming the notation in the message I saw wasn’t wrong, here’s an idea of how much that is: a 100 watt lightbulb consumes 0.1 kW, meaning you need to run 10 of them to get that 1kW. 1kW is not the same as 1KW, by the way, it’s 1/1000th of 1KW.

So Pepco has asked them to do the equivalent of turning off 1,500,000 light bulbs.

If you ever wondered what the cost of this kind of day was, there’s a little insight. Because they’re not going to turn off a bunch of things, they’re going to cut hardline power and use their generators. Which you can be sure are more expensive for them than using that Pepco-provided power. So when you smell more exhaust today than usual, this might be why.

This kind of thing is also why you should go get yourself a timer-operated thermostat for your home, or turn up the temp on your AC when you leave for work – reduce that load and the power company doesn’t have to brown out anyone. And of course the fact that you save money ain’t such a bad reason either.

5 Comments so far

  1. Mike B. (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

    Ain’t no such think as a KW, only kW. But 1,500kW would equal 1.5MW.

  2. Don (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

    There may not be such a thing officially but the message I got came via nerd, and among my people the m/M k/K notation is common. 1,500kW doesn’t jibe with how much stuff my little birdie tells me they were turning off… I suspect they meant 1,500MW, though as it’s 3rd hand info I could be wrong.

  3. David (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

    From DC Utility Alerts:

    PEPCO reports a 5% Voltage Reduction has been implemented across the PJM area. In addition customers are requested to curtail consumption. 5% voltage reduction will not result in interruption of power supply but rather a reduction in the supply voltage to customers.

    Sent by DC HSEMA to e-mail, pagers, cell phones
    Powered by the Roam Secure Alert Network


    …to note, these guys (PJM) are the guys who manage the Northeast grid from Philly. We’re on a overlap here in Maryland and DC, and could pull from another grid if we started seeing a dip. (knowledge from a former job)

  4. KCinDC (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

    In the SI system, there is no “K”. Yes, “m” (1/1000) and “M” (1 million) are completely different, but “KW” is just a misspelling of “kW”. (Geeks do sometimes use “K” with bytes to distinguish between 1,024 and 1,000.) You’re talking about 15,000 lightbulbs. 1,500 MW would be like the output of an entire power plant, so I don’t think you’d be using that much, much less turning it off.

    Looks like Pepco as a whole produced 26.5 million MW-h last year, which would work out to an average of 3,000 MW. So I don’t think you were saving half of Pepco’s average total electricity usage.

  5. Don (unregistered) on August 9th, 2007 @ 11:19 am

    Thanks for the sanity check, KC. The description I got of what they were turning off sure seemed like a lot more than 1,500kW but perhaps they were over-reaching or that was the only granularity they could manage.

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