Because of big screen TVs and home computers, utilities are seeing another peak power problem evolve.

Traditional peak power hours - the time during the day when power demand shoots up - run from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, according to Andrew Tang, senior director, smart energy web, at Pacific Gas & Electric. Air conditioning begins to ramp up and people start heading for malls and home. On some unfortunate days, brownouts occur.

But utilities are now seeing a second surge after the 7:00 pm drop in demand; it runs from about 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, he said. That's when people head toward the electronic entertainment devices. (See: Atomization of the American family.)

"It is so much a peak as it is a plateau," he said, adding that "8:00 pm is kind of a recent phenomenon."

The 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm plateau is also "reasonably close" to the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm peak.

Read the rest of the story at Green Light