Minn. power companies coping with increased demandby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — One Minnesota utility is asking customers to conserve energy today because of the high demand for electricity during the heat wave.
Minnesota Power, based in Duluth, suggests people postpone using clothes washers and kitchen stoves until 9:00 tonight.
Xcel Energy is not making a similar request, but the company said some of its commercial customers have reduced their electricity use, partly in response to higher prices.
Xcel's director of transmission operations Greg Pieper said there's also concern about the utility's equipment in high heat.
"The more you load it, there's heat that gets built up in some underground cables, there's heat that gets built up in transformers and other equipment, so they need to cool," Pieper said.
But Pieper said so far, the equipment has not exceeded its rating.
The agency that administers the Midwest electrical grid issued a notice to utilities today, asking them to postpone maintenance and generate as much power as they can.
Xcel is responding, Pieper said.
"We complete maintenance and put transmission and substation facilities back in service as best we can," Pieper said. "Then to our power plants, basically stop maintenance, just be conservative so to avoid tripping units unnecessarily."