Southern Company's (NYSE:SO) Georgia Power and Gulf Power announced today that their customers set new peak demand records Tuesday as extreme cold pushed power use higher than ever before.

Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Tuesday, Georgia Power peak energy demand clocked in at approximately 16,859 MW, significantly surpassing the utility's previous 15,806 MW winter peak demand record set in December 2010.

According to Southern Company, Georgia Power pre-emptively added more electricity generation online to avoid any supply issues. "The ability to quickly coordinate and respond to potential threats across our network is part of our great strength as a company," said John Pemberton, senior vice president and senior production officer for Georgia Power. "Weather such as this reinforces the need for us to continue to invest in our infrastructure including multiple sources of generation and advanced 'smart grid' technologies in order to deliver safe and reliable power to customers."

At the same time, Florida-based Gulf Power demand hit 2,694 MW, inching ahead of a previous 2,634 MW record set in August 2007 to reach a new all-time record.

The utility pointed to its latest transmission improvements as a major factor in its ability to handle high demand. "The investments we have made in our system are paying off and will help even more to serve our customers and embrace growth in the future," said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power manager of corporate communications. "Our goal is to maintain our reliability even during these periods of high demand, and our employees worked as safely and quickly as possible through the weather to serve our customers, who are at the center of everything we do."