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Duke Energy set winter electricity-demand record, asks customers to conserve

Duke Energy asked its nearly 4 million customers in the Carolinas to conserve electricity Tuesday as the company coped with extreme cold.

Duke said its Carolinas customers set a record Tuesday for electricity demand in winter. Demand is typically highest in summer, when air conditioners are running full blast.

All its power plants were running in late afternoon, but Duke said the heavy demand could still cause power outages by making equipment fail or circuits overload.

“Our equipment is designed for Carolina winters,” said spokeswoman Paige Layne, “and this more like a Northeastern winter.”

Duke says customers should turn off lights, delay use of appliances when possible, open curtains to let in sunshine and bump thermostats down a degree or two.

Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves Charlotte and the western Carolinas, reported 296 outages at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The cold – 6 degrees in Charlotte early Tuesday and 8 degrees below zero in Boone – is also slowing down the equipment that moves electricity across the grid.

“It’s historic that we’re looking at negative (temperature) numbers not only across our service territory but in surrounding territories,” Layne said.

Duke triggered a voluntary demand-response program for commercial customers who have agreed to cycle electricity on and off for specific functions, such as heating or operating machinery.

Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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