Heat Wave Brings Electricity Caution to the Capitol

Posted June 22, 2010 at 11:34am

Updated: June 23, 3:51 p.m.

The Senate will be a little darker Tuesday as the Architect of the Capitol turns off nonessential lights to conserve electricity during the “intense heat and humidity” consuming Washington, D.C.

In an e-mail sent to Senate employees, Senate Office Buildings Superintendent Robin Morey writes that his office will execute a “curtailment plan” between noon and 7 p.m. Tuesday. During that time, workers will turn off cove lighting, architectural lighting and “non essential HVAC equipment.”

“Minimum lighting levels in the effected areas will be maintained per code for emergencies,” Morey writes. “We are asking staff to help in this effort by turning off non essential lights, TVs and other electrical equipment.”

The high temperature on Tuesday was 94 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures could get as high as 99 degrees later this week. To ensure the peak demand for air conditioning doesn’t exceed Pepco’s electricity capacity, the company created the curtailment program, according to Morey’s e-mail. Customers who “achieve significant reductions” receive financial incentives.

The House also cut back on electricity usage Tuesday, but not to the same extent as in the Senate, AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki said. Workers shut down outside fountains, for example, but committee hearings and House activity prevented more electricity use curtailment, she said.