With the temperature reaching triple digits Thursday, the region's legions of air conditioners were busily humming and offering cool relief to residents but also putting an extra demand on the power grid.
David Mayne, a spokesman for Indiana Michigan Power, said the company has been monitoring the grid in Allen County during the heat wave, and so far it's been holding up under the strain.
But in surrounding counties, residents faced possible rolling blackouts Thursday evening, unless electricity was conserved.
"Our system is overloaded, and we're at the critical point where there's almost no more power to be given," said Jaime Boswell, a spokeswoman for Steuben County REMC, an electric co-op. "We just need everybody to be conscious of their usage."
Boswell said all electric co-ops in northeast Indiana were under the threat of rolling blackouts Thursday night, an issue the rural electric grids would continue to face today. The heat wave is expected to continue into next week.
Steuben County and Kosciusko County REMCs asked customers to cut back on air-conditioning use and switch off unneeded lights. Both utilities referred to an electricity shortage affecting much of the Midwest.
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. said in a statement that its six electric-generating facilities are running at maximum capacity to keep up with a jump in usage. Crews have been checking substations and vital circuits for signs of "hot spots" to head off potential problems, NIPSCO said.
Sara Chamberlain, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Syracuse, said Fort Wayne topped out at 100 degrees at 3:50 p.m. Thursday, tied for the second-highest temperature for the date (1983). The city record for July 21 was 104 degrees, set in 1934.
It was the city's first triple-digit day since July 30, 1999, she said.
Nearly 175 people have visited one of Fort Wayne's two cooling centers, which opened Monday to help people escape the heat. The community center at 233 W. Main St. has been open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the Public Safety Academy, 7602 Patriot Crossing, has been open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In Aboite Township, Aqua Indiana asked its customers to stop watering their lawns through Monday because the recent hot temperatures and lack of rain have strained the water supply. The utility said water consumption in the state has risen lately and that there's a concern the system won't be able to sustain the pressure necessary for customers and for fire protection.
The utility will reassess the requested lawn-watering ban Monday and may ask customers to continue conserving.
In Kendallville, the city has set up a cooling station at the Cole YMCA. To request a ride to the Y, call 260-347-9622. The City Council chambers are also open to those seeking to cool off.
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