03/04/2014 11:14 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

Newfoundland cold snap drives power load near limit, consumers asked to conserve

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A cold snap gripping much of Newfoundland and Labrador drove electricity demands close to capacity Tuesday as consumers were being asked to conserve.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro says shortly after 7:30 a.m., peak load reached 1,406 megawatts, about 44 megawatts less than forecast.

The system has 1,575 megawatts of power available with maximum demand through Thursday expected of between 1,400 and 1,500 megawatts.

The utility has asked residential consumers to conserve hot water, turn down thermostats and not use clothes dryers in the mornings and evenings.

Temperatures around the province are expected to hit about -20 C but will feel much colder in some regions with wind chills.

The request to conserve power comes two months after power failures across Newfoundland were blamed on unusual cold, high winds and equipment malfunctions.