THE U.S. DEMAND for electricity reached an all-time record in late July, during a punishing national heat wave. U.S. utilities delivered 96,314 gigawatt-hours of electricity for the week ending July 22, surpassing last year’s record by more than 1 percent, according to the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) weekly survey on electric demand. This left utilities scrambling.

According to Tom Kuhn, EEI president, to further reinforce the future reliability of the nation’s power grids, utilities are significantly increasing investment in high-voltage power transmission lines as well as local distribution infrastructure that carries power to homes and businesses.

Nationally, utilities will spend $6 billion to maintain and upgrade local distribution systems, Kuhn said. Additional power plants are also under construction to help meet demand.

“Reinforcing the nation’s power grid is an evolutionary process,” Kuhn said.

Part of the process is implementing the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which includes creation and enforcement of mandatory reliability standards binding on all electricity providers. Just recently, federal energy regulators certified the North American Electric Reliability Council as the agency responsible for developing and enforcing those standards, which “will further reinforce the reliability of our electric system,” Kuhn said.

EEI’s Weekly Electric Output Survey has been measuring electricity demand for more than 70 years. For more information, visit www.eei.orgEC