HOUSTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) - PJM Interconnection, the power grid agency for the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest, called for all electric generation to be available to meet rising demand Monday night and Tuesday as frigid temperatures grip the region.
PJM issued a Maximum Emergency Generation Alert for Tuesday to warn power-plant operators that system conditions may require them to be available to meet record demand.
"Extreme cold temperatures tonight and tomorrow will challenge PJM and its members," the grid agency said in a release.
The eastern two-thirds of the nation is experiencing the coldest weather in nearly two decades, according to the National Weather Service, boosting heating demand in homes and businesses.
The grid agency warned that the sustained cold weather and high electric demand could lead to natural gas curtailments to some gas-fired power plants.
"PJM has requested permission to share non-public information with natural gas pipelines to confirm that gas supplies will be available to the gas-fired generators PJM expects to need," the agency said.
Demand for natural gas hit an all-time high of 119 billion cubic feet on Monday, eclipsing the previous record set in January 2009, according to Thomson Reuters Analytics.
PJM has forecast peak electric demand Tuesday of 140,000 megawatts which would be a new winter record, surpassing the February 2007 winter peak of 136,675 MW.
The high temperature in Chicago Monday was expected to reach 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius). Tuesday's high will fall to 4 degrees, according to AccuWeather.com.
Power demand Monday in PJM was expected to exceed 132,400 MW Monday evening as temperatures continued to fall.
Next-day PJM power more than doubled to an average of $225 per megawatt-hour, up from $136 per MWh late last week.
PJM coordinates the movement of electricity through all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
PJM members include units of American Electric Power Co , First Energy, Exelon Corp, Public Service Electric & Gas Co and others.