By Philadelphia Business Journal

The Philadelphia regionâ¿¿s triple digit temperatures on Tuesday pushed Peco Energy Co. power use just shy of an all-time record and caused afternoon rush-hour delays of up to 40 minutes on SEPTAâ¿¿s regional rail.

With temperatures forecast to rise above 100 degrees in the region again Wednesday, SEPTA said the possibility of delays exists once more.

⿿Pack some patience, particularly in this weather, and just know that we are doing the absolute best to make sure service is getting to them as quickly as possible because we know that no one wants to stand out in this heat,⿝ SEPTA spokesman Gary Fairfax said. ⿿Customers can anticipate possible delays as they did yesterday. Whenever we are battling heat like this it⿿s always a possibility.⿝

Heat can cause sagging overhead power lines and track buckling on SEPTAâ¿¿s rail system, which officials are looking for and taking precautions to prevent, Fairfax said. SEPTA has also stationed personnel and equipment throughout the service area so they can respond quickly to any problems.

⿿As it becomes hotter the speed of trains will be reduced to decrease the friction on overhead wires,⿝ Fairfax said.

Reducing the maximum speed of trains also reduces the amount of electricity needed to run the trains and SEPTAâ¿¿s overall draw on the regionâ¿¿s power system, Fairfax said. One thing SEPTA riders can do to help, if their schedule permits, is leave work earlier rather than later, Fairway said.

Tuesdayâ¿¿s heat resulted in the third-highest demand from Peco customers ever, Peco spokesman Ben Armstrong said. Peco customers used 8,832 megawatts of power on Tuesday, which was just shy of the record of 8,932 megawatts set on Aug. 3, 2006. The second highest demand was 8,884 megawatts on Aug. 1, 2006.

Armstrong said Peco doesnâ¿¿t anticipate any problems meeting demand as the region heads into a second-day of triple-digit temperatures.

⿿We haven⿿t had any widespread issues. We did experience a few isolated heat-related outages as the system was working in extreme conditions yesterday and will be today,⿝ Armstrong said.

Peco also experienced a few outages on Monday which were heat-related, but many were related to tree limbs and falling trees, Armstrong said. As temperatures become hotter tree limbs that may be dying or broken can dry out, crack and fall. Although PECO doesnâ¿¿t anticipate problems meeting demand, Armstrong said customers should understand that the more energy they use the higher their bill will be. Armstrong said there are a number of things customers can do to reduce the impact of the heat, including:

â¿¢ Keep curtains, blinds and shades closed because about 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows.

â¿¢ Turn off unnecessary lighting and unplug any appliances not in use.

⿢ Raise thermostats a few degrees, maybe from 76 to 78. ⿿You⿿re are still going to have a cooling effect on the body when you come out of 100-degree weather and into a 76- to 78-degree home,⿝ Armstrong said.

â¿¢ Use fans to circulate air and use ceiling fans to push warm air down.

â¿¢ Avoid using appliances that produce heat, such as dishwashers and clothes dryers, until the sun goes down or at least later at night.

The potential to break Pecoâ¿¿s record usage exists as the heat wave drags on, Armstrong said.

⿿We traditionally see after several days of hot, humid temperatures, the increased electric use of customers,⿝ Armstrong said. ⿿Those who haven⿿t broken down and turned on their air conditioners, it takes this type of event for everyone to turn their air conditioner on.⿝

The excessive heat hasnâ¿¿t caused any problems at the Philadelphia International Airport, spokesman Mark Pesce said.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010