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Warm August nights eyed as cause of spike in Tarentum electric usage, higher bills

October 13, 2018

Warm August nights are to blame for some Tarentum residents getting hit with higher electric bills, the borough’s manager says.

While the average high temperature for the month wasn’t too far off the normal -- just a little below 81.4 degrees -- the average low was 64.7, which was 5 percent higher than the 61.5 degrees usually seen, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Redmond.

While there were three days when the high topped 90 -- 91 on Aug. 27 and 92 on Aug. 28 and 29 -- it was the higher nighttime lows that stood out.

On Aug. 28, the record for a high low temperature was tied, when it got down to only 73 degrees. That tied the same reading for that date in 1973, Redmond said.

Over the whole month, there were 23 days where the overnight low temperature was above the normal low for that day in August.

Those warm nights boosted the overall mean temperature for the month up to 73, higher than the norm of 71.5.

The effect was seen in Tarentum’s electric usage as residents tried to keep cool. The borough operates its own electric distribution system, buying power from a supplier.

“Because it was a hot month, residents were likely utilizing their air conditioners and cooling systems more so than usual,” Nestico said. “They were likely using them throughout the night as well, something that might typically be avoided.

Nestico said the borough consumed 3,530 megawatt hours of power, which was 14 percent higher than the 3,092 megawatt hours used in that month a year ago.

“Therefore, it is possible that residential electric bills could be roughly 13 percent higher than they were last year during the same time period,” Nestico said.

Since 2013, the borough has consumed more than that amount of power only one time -- 3,897 megawatt hours in 2016, Nestico said.

There had not been any change in the borough’s electric rates this year, Nestico said. Bills are based on actual readings, not estimates, using smart meters.

“Nonetheless, there is no issue or malfunction from the electric meters,” he said. “It was simply a month of higher consumption for a lot of customers.”

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