PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A transmission tower stands silhouetted against a frosty sky.

The sub-zero digits during this record-breaking cold are demanding a lot of juice to keep warm, especially with our neighbors in the northeast. And their usage is affecting us.

KDKA’s Mary Robb Jackson Reports:

“You’ve a lot of areas in the north and the East Coast that you have a lot of electric heat customers,” said Joe Vallarian, of Duquesne Light.

Here’s how that ripple effect works.

PJM, or the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Transmission Organization, coordinates the movement of regional wholesale electricity for 61 million power customers in 13 states.

Power is shifting around all the time to meet demands.

“We’ve been in contact with PJM, the supply looks good right now,” said Vallarian.

PJM is asking customers to conserve energy, especially between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. It’s as simple as not running the dishwasher until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.

The same is true for washing and drying clothes.

KDKA’s Mary Robb Jackson Reports:

It helps to knock the thermostat back a couple of degrees to the lowest comfortable setting, making sure furniture or drapes don’t block air registers and consider using a microwave or slow-cooker because both use far less power than a conventional oven.

“If you’re not in a room, turn the lights off. If you’re not using the computer, turn that off,” said Vallarian.

Conserving energy is great for another reason, too. Any energy you save is reflected on you bill.

Meanwhile, while everyone is being asked to conserve energy, some have no power at all.

There have been sporadic outages throughout the region today, which makes staying warm that much more challenging, even indoors.

At the height of the Polar Vortex, hundreds in Westmoreland, Indiana and Fayette counties were in the dark.

“It could have been better, but it wasn’t all that bad,” said Roger Truman, of Ruffsdale.

Without electrical power, the power of positive thinking was helping Truman. He did his best to keep the family warm, and what warmth was available was inside.

“They were wrapped up in long johns and all that,” said Truman. “We just made sure we didn’t open up the doors too much.”

The fireplace heated up the house, and even if he wanted to leave he couldn’t because his cars wouldn’t start.

KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:

Speaking of the road, Rupert and Albert Baughman were hitting the road in search of heat.

“We were gonna go to Walmart and by a propane heater but they’re out,” said Baughman. “Next guess is a relative’s house.”

At Westmoreland County’s emergency operations center, the little numbers on the big screen can still mean problems.

“We will have shelters open if someone needs someplace warm to spend the evening,” said Dan Stevens, of Westmoreland County Emergency Management.

The good news is, according to all power providers, everyone without service should have power restored sometime Tuesday night.

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