"We're busiest in extreme weather conditions," said Harry Nuding, a maintenance worker who was cooling off at the Croydon station's water fountain last week. "But I'd rather see it busy than not."
Nuding's wish has been granted day after day. Between July 13 and July 27, as the mercury continually climbed above 90 degrees, the Croydon station produced enough energy to power 64,000 homes for one month. Peco said official figures for electricity use since July 27 are not available yet.
The combustion turbines, which Nuding describes as large, jet-powered engines, burn 4,000 gallons of fuel an hour and can produce up to 50 megahertz of power a day.
The turbines are used as a supplemental system because the electricity they generate is more expensive to produce than the power from nuclear reactors and coal.
The increase in cost is factored into Peco's annual budget, so rates do not go up during a heat wave, said Lisa Moorhead, a Peco spokeswoman.
The nine Peco facilities in the area have 33 combustion turbines, which generated more than 65.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity during the peak demand period in July. The Croydon facility is the largest.
That extra power, say Peco officials, met all the energy demands through July 27.
"When I go home at the end of the day, I turn on the air conditioning and turn on the television, too," said Don Furbert, a maintenance worker at the Croydon station. "It's OK, because I know we can always produce more energy here."