July 17 (Reuters) - New York State's power grid operator said it might ask some of its customers in its power reduction programs to limit electricity use for a third day as people crank up air conditioners to escape the brutal heat wave.
So far, the state's utilities and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which operates the grid, have not had to take any major steps to keep the lights on and air conditioners humming.
They have asked consumers to conserve power, deferred non-essential equipment maintenance and activated demand response programs to reduce energy usage in some areas, but there have been no widespread blackouts - just some scattered outages.
"We are expecting to meet Wednesday's peak demand and maintain our operating reserve requirement over the peak hour," NYISO spokesman Ken Klapp told Reuters.
Temperatures in New York City, the nation's biggest metropolitan area, reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 C) on Monday and Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to remain around 94-95 F through Friday before thunderstorms break the heat wave on Saturday, weather forecaster AccuWeather.com said.
The grid operator said its demand response programs can reduce power usage by more than 1,250 megawatts. One megawatt can power up to 1,000 New York homes.
Demand response program participants are compensated for reducing electricity use - and could be penalized for not doing so - by raising air conditioner thermostats and by turning off unnecessary lights and other equipment, including elevators. Putting on-site generators into use also reduces the amount of power needed from the grid.
NYISO forecast demand would peak at 33,400 MW Wednesday afternoon, which is close to the grid's all-time record of 33,939 MW set in 2006, before industrial and commercial companies reduced power usage during the recession.
On Tuesday, peak demand reached 32,223 MW, which was below usage on Monday of 32,703 MW. Monday's peak was the highest so far in 2013 and topped the 2012 record of 32,439 MW, NYISO said.
The biggest power companies in New York include units of Consolidated Edison Inc, National Grid Plc, Iberdrola SA, Entergy Corp, TransCanada Corp and NRG Energy Inc.