This summer has been a mega scorcher, with high heat, intense humidity, and a flurry of thunderstorms all working together to make NYC residents pretty miserable. And there’s one more thing adding insult to injury: electricity prices skyrocketed on Monday afternoon to a whopping $1,042 per megawatt hour. The 1,000-percent increase, initially reported by Bloomberg, was the spot price at 3:30 p.m. local time just after a storm warning was issued, on a day that had already surpassed 90 degrees.
New Yorkers shouldn’t have to worry about feeling any extra misery when their July utility bills arrive, though. Overall energy prices are kept fairly steady thanks to New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) which oversees the grid. Spot prices contribute to the pricing trends, but they don’t make the rules. However, as the heat, humidity, and storms increase in severity as well as frequency, we could see more, and higher, spot prices in the future.
It’s no mystery that summer’s intense heat puts a strain on the electricity grid, as folks crank up the air conditioning and plug in extra fans in a desperate attempt to stay cool. The thunderstorms impact electricity pricing as well, due to the increased threat of lost service from downed power lines or blown generators. With these factors working together, along with the increasing populations in several boroughs of the city, the demand on the grid during peak energy usage times is also increasing.
Several local utilities have urged customers to reduce energy usage wherever possible during these peak times, in an effort to avoid overwhelming the grid or causing pricing spikes. More summer storms are on the horizon, but next week’s temperatures will fall slightly and hopefully offer some relief. However, as the effects of climate change continue to wreak havoc on the planet, intense summer heat and wicked thunderstorms are expected to become even more frequent in the years to come.