Several Massachusetts power companies are taking action against power outages that have become increasingly common as summer temperatures continue to rise.
Some companies, like Eversource, have already faced outages due to the recent heat wave, while others, like National Grid, are going through the season without them. These utilities are taking steps to prevent future system failures, both within their system and in their relationships with customers.
What electric companies do
Eversource, New England’s largest energy provider, released a statement detailing how it plans to meet rising electricity demand amid several reported outages in Boston. The company’s action plan includes routine examinations and the availability of its teams for repairs.
“We are starting to prepare for the surge in demand that we typically see during the summer months long before the warm weather arrives,” said Eversource vice president for electrical operations Bill Ritchie. in the press release. “By performing ground and aerial inspections of the overhead and underground electrical system during the colder months, we can detect and resolve any issues in advance so that our customers have reliable service during those hot summer days. and throughout the year.”
National Grid spokeswoman Christine Milligan told MassLive the company has not experienced any outages as a direct result of the current heatwave. The company uses extra fans on its equipment to make sure it doesn’t overheat, among other precautions, she said.
Other companies, like ISO New England in Holyoke, closely monitor their equipment for signs of voltage or overheating. Matt Kakley, spokesperson for ISO New England, told MassLive that the company isn’t having trouble keeping up with demand, but is being cautious.
“We have the resources to meet consumer demand,” he said. “These are obviously the highest temperatures we have seen this summer, but things are going well so far. We will continue to watch it.
By closely monitoring the electrical system, operators can remotely move individual power loads that could overheat or cause an outage, Eversource spokesman Chris McKinnon told WBZ.
what you can do
Officials agree that the best way to prevent blackouts is through individual power consumption. Several companies, including Eversource, have released a series of tips to help customers save energy while staying cool and avoiding high electricity bills.
“Keep air conditioners set to a moderate temperature that is also comfortable. For every degree higher on the thermostat, the air conditioner will use 1-3% less electricity,” says a tip on the Eversource website. Eversource also provides several interactive tools to its customers that allow them to track their energy consumption.
National Grid is also asking its customers for their help in reducing the pressure on the network. Milligan told MassLive that if individual users reduce their use of devices during peak hours, it could lessen the impact on the network as a whole.
“It helps if we don’t all put requests on the grid at the same time,” Milligan said.
Power outages can occur during a series of hot days as more electricity is used to power air conditioners and fans. Electrical equipment tends to overheat with light use.
Overall, most outages are caused by failures in electrical distribution systems, the networks of materials that carry power from power lines to homes. The pressure on distribution systems can vary by location – an area dominated by apartment buildings can generate more demand than spaced out suburbs.
The voltage on the electrical networks is easily monitored. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA, has a map of power outages by region for four Massachusetts power companies that is updated every 15 minutes.
To see the full map, click here.
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