The heat wave's impact on the power grid

As the heat continues to move east, it's going to put more and more pressure on the nation's power grid CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod has more on that.

The people here at Con Edison -- the utility that provides power for 10 million customers around New York through substations -- expect to set a new record for power demand sometime in the next couple of days. But they say they are ready for it.

At this Con Edison emergency center in lower Manhattan, they're on a conference call tracking outages and disruptions. Never in the 30 years John Miksad has been with Con Edison that he has dealt with a demand quite like the one he expects to see sometime before Saturday.

"You are close to an all-time demand?" asked Axelrod.

"You are absolutely right," said Miksad. "So this is primetime for us."

There have been $8.1 billion in infrastructure investments since 2006 -- the last major heat-related blackout -- which has ConEd confident they'll avoid major problem, even in this power hungry digital world.

"Just think about all the plug-in devices that we have we all have our iPods and BlackBerrys that we are charging," said Miksad, "So it's all of those devices in addition to the A/C load that folks are cranking up today."

The utility providing power to parts of Iowa and Minnesota has set a new record for demand, as well as in Madison, Wis. Delaware is expected to set a new record today, sending crews in a large swath of the country below ground to make sure things run smoothly.

One factor working in Con Edison's favor the next couple days: the weak economy. Among the places where people cut back to lower their bills is how much electricity they use -- even during a heat wave.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.