Yes, your grandparents had it tougher: Residents of St. Paul sleep outside during a heat wave in 1936. (Photo via Minnesota Historical Society)

After enduring a brutal winter, upper Midwesterners don’t cotton much to complaining about the heat. But with temperatures in the 90s compounded with record humidity, one can be forgiven for grousing a bit.

Paul Douglas of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that yesterday, Moorhead, Minnesota was the hottest spot on planet Earth, with a heat index of 134 degrees.

But it’s not just weather records that are falling. The unbearable conditions have air conditioners running non-stop, leading to unprecedented electricity demand. Some headlines:

South Dakota: NorthWestern Energy surpasses demand record (Associated Press)
Wisconsin: MGE customers set another power usage record (Wisconsin State Journal)
Iowa: MidAmerican, Alliant report record electric demand (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Minnesota: Xcel set new power demand record Monday (Star Tribune)

While there have been power outages throughout the region, most of the utilities seem confident they can meet demand, which is expected to peak yet again today. But as a changing climate makes these “heat storms” (Douglas’ term) more likely, we’ll need to find ways to continue to meet (or reduce) this increasing demand.

Wouldn’t want to get left out in the heat.

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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