Temperatures more suited to the Arctic Circle than Allentown produced a new peak power usage record Friday (2/20) among our customers.

Preliminary figures show a new mark of 7,883 megawatt-hours, which breaks the old mark of 7,816 megawatt-hours set just 13 months ago, in early January 2014.

The latest record was set during the hour ending at 8 a.m. Friday. It means customers used 7.88 million kilowatt-hours of electricity during that one-hour period, enough to power about 700 homes for a year.

“Investing in our system makes it more reliable, and that benefits customers,” said Dave Bonenberger, vice president of Distribution Operations for the utility. “Whether the thermometer reads minus 1 or 101, we work to make sure our system delivers as promised.”

The utility has invested about $4.7 billion in its system in the past decade and is poised to invest another $5.7 billion over the next five years. Improvements include rebuilding older lines, installing more automated smart grid technology and making the system more storm-resistant.

The company reported no notable cold-weather-related issues on its transmission and distribution systems.

No significant warm-up is forecast in the next 10 days.

Customers looking to save on their electric bills should consider shopping for their electricity supply, and the best way to do that is to visit PAPowerSwitch.com. There are numerous offers below the utility’s price to compare, the cost for electricity supply for customers who don’t shop.

Customers shopping for their electricity supply should be sure to understand the terms of any supplier contract, including whether the price is variable or fixed over time. They also should be aware of any cancellation fees.

The cold weather of recent weeks likely will drive up customer bills, putting stress on some households.

“For those who qualify, we have payment assistance programs to help,” Bonenberger said. “Those programs can be found at pplelectric.com/billhelp. In addition, customers can take advantage of programs like budget billing to help make payments even over time and avoid seasonal swings.”