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In this Tuesday, June 20, 2017, photo, provided by Ann Alden shows a wildfire, locally called the Encino Fire, in Sonoita, Ariz. An extreme heat wave in the Southwest U.S. made the fight against a series of wildfires more difficult Wednesday. (Ann Alden via AP)

Unrivaled heat in the Southwest has helped break energy use records


Unparalleled high temperatures in the Southwest has helped power companies in the region shatter their previous energy use records, according to The Desert Sun.

The Palm Springs, CA newspaper reported Friday that at least eight utilities across five states saw electricity use reach-all time highs in providing simultaneous power.

The phenomenon came as the number of days with highs above 95 degrees has risen substantially in many places, according to a recent analysis by Climate Central.

Climate Central is purportedly an independent, non-profit research and news organization that analyzes and tracks climate change.

Twitter users this week repeatedly sounded alarm about the Southwest’s heatwave, with many predicting it will only worsen.

The Desert Sun reported that Arizona’s three largest utilities all shattered their benchmarks for most simultaneous energy use after Phoenix hit a record 119 degree high on June 20.

Salt River Project, which serves 1 million customers in the Phoenix area, set a new record that day when customers used 7,219 megawatts, up from 6,873 last summer.

El Paso Electric Company, which reportedly serves 400,000 in west Texas and southern New Mexico, set a new high in energy use un June 22.

The Desert Sun reported that El Paso’s temperature that day reached 109 degrees, one degree short of the all-time record for that day, and 12 degrees higher than average.

The newspaper additionally reported that other energy companies in California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas also saw energy use peak in conjunction with history-making temperatures.

Maximilian Auffhammer, an environmental economic at the University of California, Berkeley, said he expects demand to grow and force utilities to keep pace and meet it.

“People like to have their lights on, and they like to be able to operate their air conditioner when they need it,” said Auffhammer, who authored a paper on the topic last February.

“In order to make sure we’re going to have these electricity services we need or these cooling services we want, we can either become more efficient or we can put more [power plants] online.”

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