07/28/05 — Snow cone sales, power usage hit record highs

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Snow cone sales, power usage hit record highs

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 28, 2005 1:50 PM

The heat wave that has swept across eastern North Carolina this week has resulted in record-breaking electric usage, said a power company spokesman today.

Mike Hughes, a spokesman for Progress Energy, said the company recorded all-time highs for megawatt hours Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hughes said Progress Energy routinely expects high electric use this time of year and that the company doesn't' foresee any problems with providing its customers with power. Nationally, power companies are urging customers to cut back on electricity to prevent possible problems.

"Our transmission and generation systems handled it well," Hughes said, referring to the 100-degree temperatures. He said he knows of no power outages in the Wayne County area.

Electric use reached its highest point between 4 and 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Hughes said. Progress Energy customers in the Wayne area were using 12,572 megawatt hours at that time on Wednesday. On Tuesday, they used 12,232 megawatts.

Wednesday also set a 24-hour usage record, Hughes said.

"It was the highest it's every been for Progress Energy customers," he said.

Bob Kornegay, a spokesman for Tri-County EMC, said his company does not anticipate any major problems due to the hot weather. "In the unlikely event that demand exceeds supply, we will keep our members informed through the news media about ways to conserve power, or about any other actions we might need to take to reduce demand," he said today.

Kornegay said the electric cooperative system hit a record summer peak in excess of 2,600 megawatts on Tuesday. The Tri-County record for system use hit its all-time high in January 2004 with 2,744 megawatts.

The heat sent at least six people to the hospital this week, said Blair Tyndall of the Wayne County Emergency Services Department. Tyndall said dispatchers received 30-40 calls about people with heat-related problems. Most had been working outdoors in their yards, he said.

Local air conditioner repair companies are staying busy with repairing broken air conditioners in the area.

Ron Carter, the service manager for Jackson & Sons Heating and Air Conditioning, said his workers have responded to a number of calls about malfunctioning units.

"Our workload has probably tripled with the amount of calls due to the heat," he said. "In the past two days, we have touched about 140 to 150 air conditioners."

Carter said the elderly and people on respirators or other life-saving machines are given top priority.

People are also buying more beverages to combat the heat. Officials with Winn-Dixie said they have seen beverage sales double. Gary Norris, assistant manager at the Food Lion store on Spence Avenue, said his store had a 24 percent increase in beverage sales, including soft drinks, Gatorade and water.

Water has been the biggest seller for Pepsi Bottling Ventures of Goldsboro. Steve Walton, a Pepsi spokesman, said all beverage sales have gone up, especially those of bottled water.