After a brief respite last week, the highs once again are headed into the nineties. Mark Reinders with Mid American Energy says while the power company copes with high demand for air-conditioning, electric usage in its service region is growing even faster than the population.He says customers are using about 12-percent more electricity than they were in July a year ago. A new record for peak demand was set last month, 3,956 megawatts on June 27. The last peak was set in August 2003, at 3,935 megawatts. Even though he says the population hasn’t grown significantly the last couple years in its service area of South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, Reinders says “we have more toys — more electronic toys, I guess.” Reinders says a power company’s required to have at least fifteen-percent excess capacity. This summer, he says they’ve managed to stay about 19-percent but also are working to increase longterm capacity. A new wind-farm in northwest Iowa came on-line late in 2004 providing 360 megawatts of power, and a new natural-gas plant opened in Des Moines earlier this year provides about 540 megawatts. And the utility’s building a new coal-fired power plant in Council Bluffs expected to generate 800 megawatts. That coal plant won’t be complete and on-line till 2007. Reinders says they haven’t had a rate increase since 1995 and don’t plan one until 2010. MidAmerican Energy serves 1.3 million customers in a 10,000 square-mile area from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to the Quad-Cities area of Iowa and Illinois.
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