POLL: Power demand up as aircons cranked

 A GROWING Hunter population once again binged on electricity yesterday to keep thousands of airconditioners running.

Despite the soaring heat, power consumption for the region fell short of the record set in February 2011.

Demand for electricity across Ausgrid’s Hunter network was 1100 megawatts at 5pm yesterday.

The figure compares with a peak demand record of 1222 megawatts set at 5.45pm on February 3, 2011.

‘‘Today’s demand has been on the same tangent as February 3, 2011 but it’s been tracking at about 100megawatts below all day,’’ an Ausgrid spokesman said.

The state’s total electricity demand peaked at 13,000megawatts at 4pm. It coincided with a wholesale price of $120 a megawatt hour.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Energy Market Operator said demand for power had matched expectations. 

‘‘It’s getting close to what we were expecting,’’ she said. ‘‘High demand does not necessarily mean you are going 

to see high power prices.’’

As with previous heatwaves, airconditioners fuelled a large part of yesterday’s demand.  

Most domestic wall-mounted split-systems were consuming about 2.5kilowatts of electricity an hour at a cost of 50¢ an hour yesterday. 

The cost compares with 30¢ to 40¢ on a normal day.

An Ausgrid spokesman said airconditioners were a significant factor in overall demand.

‘‘Every year during the summer months we get a number of hot days that coincide with an increase in demand,’’ he said. ‘‘People naturally switch their airconditioners on to stay cool.’’

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