Surging electricity demand has seen generators set new supply records this winter as cold weather, economic recovery and the growing use of electrical devises pushes demand to new peaks. Perhaps more significant is the appearance of a second winter peak alongside the more typical summer heights when air conditioning units normally send demand skyrocketing.

The North American Electric Reliability Council forecasts average annual peak demand growth of 2% through until 2013 while the Edison Electric Institute reported nationwide generation of 80,958 GWh for the week ended 22 January, up 4.4% from last year and an all-time record.

Concerns have been raised that the situation could seriously strain supplies of natural gas where winter capacity peaking coincides with heavy direct-heating demand to strain gas transport infrastructure, and send prices soaring.