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Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

It's So Hot, We Set A Record For Energy Use

Map shows high temperatures for the mid-Atlantic region. Bright yellow signals temperatures in the 90s.
National Weather Service
Map shows high temperatures for the mid-Atlantic region. Bright yellow signals temperatures in the 90s.

With temperatures soaring last week, Duke Energy customers in North and South Carolina set a record for summertime energy use. Duke says customers used 20,671 megawatt hours of electricity between 4 and 5 pm on Wednesday, July 27. That beat the previous record of 20,628 megawatts set in 2007.

Temperatures in the Carolinas have topped 90 degrees daily since July 16, in some cases pushing near 100 degrees. Highs were above normal most days during July, according to historical weather data.

Duke says it has generating capacity to meet the demand.

"We have sufficient supplies of electricity to meet our customers' needs, and our technicians are working around the clock to ensure smooth operations at our power plants and along our power lines," Nelson Peeler, Duke 's vice president of system planning and operations, said in a press release.

This article has been updated to correct the energy use totals.

Duke also encourages customers to conserve electricity when demand is heavy. The utility has been experimenting with a household conservation program this summer called the Summer Energy Challenge.

Two days last month, the utility emailed 26,000 residential customers asking them to cut back on energy use between 2:30 and 6 p.m., when energy use peaks.

For the challenge, Duke suggests customers pre-cool their houses during the morning, then shut off the A/C during the afternoon.  The utility also recommends using ceiling fans and delaying use of washing machines and dishwashers until evening.

During the first challenge July 14, about one-third of those who received emails joined in. They saved about 15 percent on average, according to a spokesman. Some saved 85 percent or more.

High temperatures are still with us.  Tuesday's forecast calls for another day over 90, with a high near 91.  Wednesday could break the 90+ string - highs are predicted only around 88. 

Meanwhile, the summer heat has brought drought or near-drought conditions to parts of the Carolinas. Until this week, officials had issued drought advisories only for the southwestern part of North Carolina and northwestern South Carolina. 

But on Monday, officials announced that the Catawba-Wateree system is now in "drought watch." The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group says rainfall in the region has been below normal.  No actions are required by residents but voluntary conservation is encouraged. 


Energy saving tips on the Duke Energy website.

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.