Heatwave is coming: Will Jersey’s lights be able to stay on?
You can expect unbearable weather conditions outdoors through the weekend and beyond, and the folks behind the power of your air conditioning can expect to have their systems tested.
New Jersey's largest electric utilities say they're ready to take on the early summer heat.
Public Service Electric & Gas, which serves nearly three-quarters of the state's population, has undergone about $3 billion in infrastructure improvement work since last summer to prepare for these warmer months, according to spokeswoman Lauren Ugorji.
But power outages are still a possibility, she said, especially if thunderstorms — and the lightning that accompanies them — play a role in the anticipated heatwave.
"We prepare by making sure we have extra personnel on hand," Ugorji said. "With the entire state facing a string of 90-degree weather, we just can't predict how many people will crank up that AC."
Ugorji said the utility has "added redundancy" wherever they can in order to make their system more reliable.
"Typically, even when a repair needs to be made, there's already a backup so that you won't lose power," she said.
FirstEnergy, the parent company of Jersey Central Power & Light, said the utility's comprehensive system inspections and maintenance programs help ensure reliability when temperatures climb to 90 degrees. Their inspection methods include the use of thermovision cameras that can detect potential problems and ideally make repairs prior to an outage occurring.
"With the extended hot weather coinciding with the Fourth of July holiday, FirstEnergy utilities are reviewing staffing levels and hot weather operational procedures to ensure any localized power outages caused by the excessive heat are handled promptly," the company said in a news release.
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Stay cool, wisely
The utilities have some tips customers can follow to stay comfortable while using electricity wisely.
- Set thermostats as high as comfort will allow. Every degree lower uses 3 percent less energy during the hottest summer days.
- Check air conditioner and furnace air filters. Dirty filters waste energy and money.
- Use a microwave or slow cooker instead of the oven. Better yet, grill outdoors.
- Close blinds and drapes to combat the sun's heat.
- Don't cool unused rooms. Close the vents and shut the doors.
- Ceiling fans cool fast and cost less than air conditioning.