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Phoenix heat wave broke record for electricity demand again and again and again

Phoenix’s hottest month in historyled to multiple record-breaking days for electricity usage. 

Phoenix utility providers  APSand  SRPboth reported their highest demand ever on July 14, but then both utilities saw those records broken two more times by the end of the month. 

“Typically we do see our highest loads when we have consecutive days of really high heat as well as when you don’t see those overnight lows come off as much," SRP director of supply, trading and fuels, Pam Syrjala told KJZZ News. 

Phoenix's daytime highs averaged nearly 115 degrees for the month of July, overnight lows averaged nearly 91 degrees. 

“That is definitely unusual," Syrjala said. "That definitely puts a little bit more strain on your system. But luckily, we do still plan for the hottest days of the summer, we do make sure that we do a lot of outage preparation on our generation fleet prior to the summer so that they are in the best shape possible.”

SRP had projected peak electrical demand this summer would be about 7,747 megawatts, which is a 1.6% increase over last summer’s peak. Instead, SRP's highest load, on July 18, was 8,163 megawatts — 7% above last year's peak load. One megawatt is enough to power about 225 homes, according to SRP. 

On July 20, APS reported a record load of 8,193 megawatts. That's also about 7% higher than APS's previous record, set in the summer of 2020. 

“We broke our record from 2022. We also did end up having a higher demand that even exceeded our forecast for the year," said Erica Roelfs, an SRP spokesperson. “Really, right now, with the high temperatures we’ve seen, folks are running their air conditioners all throughout the day and night, which does obviously equate to a lot more energy use and energy demand on the grid.”

Roelfs said officials say they hope that monsoon storms will reduce those peaks by lowering the temperatures

SRP and APS both report they were able to meet unprecedented demand throughout July without major disruptions.

Syrjala expects demand will ease a little in August.

→  Keeping Phoenix livable in summer is creating record demand for electricity

KJZZ's Ignacio Ventura contributed to this report.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.