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Puget Sound Energy Sets Demand Records

Although the official start of spring is less than two weeks away, Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) said Wednesday it has set new one-day sendout records for natural gas and electricity in March. The Puget Energy utility said a beneficial side effect is that the added gas demand from customers is giving the utility a chance to fill up its storage reservoir with more low-priced supplies that are now available.

PSE set a peak electricity record (4,187 MW) for a March day on Wednesday, and last Monday it set its highest gas sendout (622,000 MMBtu) for a March day in seven years. The average daily gas sendout in March is 400,000 MMBtu. In response to the continuing high gas demand, the utility drew out about one-third of its supplies from the Jackson Prairie (WA) underground storage facility. PSE operates Jackson Prairie, which it owns with Spokane, WA-based Avista Corp. and Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co.

"This late cold spell may cause our customers to receive higher-than-usual heating bills next month," said PSE's David Mills, energy supply/planning director. "In the long run, this cold spell should benefit PSE customers because we are purchasing natural gas supplies at lower commodity prices to put into storage for use on the coldest days next winter."

PSE set an all-time electric usage record during the early deep freeze that hit the Pacific Northwest last December. The power record was set Dec. 15, followed by a natural gas usage record Dec. 19. PSE set multiple sendout records last December, surpassing one the utility set earlier in the week before the Christmas holiday, hitting gas demand of 780,000 MMBtu on Dec. 19, compared with 755,881 MMBtu three days earlier. Dec. 19 peak electricity usage for PSE was 4,772 MW at 6 p.m., short of the record set Dec. 15 of 4,906 MW, which exceeded a power demand marker that had stood for a decade at the combination utility (see Daily GPI, Dec. 23, 2008).

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