As the summer season kicks into high gear, we could be facing our first heat wave of the year by next week.

New Jersey’s major utilities, however, have pronounced themselves ready and able to deal with an increased demand for power.

“We invested $2.7 billion in our electric and gas systems last year, so we do a lot year round to make sure our equipment is in tip-top shape,” said PSE&G spokeswoman Brooke Houston.

She pointed out the Garden State’s largest utility has been stepping up circuit and infrared inspections, increasing transmission line work and replacing equipment. They've also raised, fortified or rebuilt four storm-damaged substations and switching stations.

“Last year we invested $35 million in tree trimming and this year we expect to invest $50 million. We monitor the weather and we put extra personnel on staff when we see hot weather coming.”

Houston noted other projects completed since last summer include:

• Installation of relays and remote terminal units at 34 substations. This program deploys smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations to increase our ability to more swiftly deploy repair teams.

• Completion of 55 projects that address critical facilities, including hospitals, water treatment plants, telecommunications facilities and police stations. This program creates redundancy in the system, reducing outages when damage occurs.

• Replacing 12 aging station transformers in order to maintain electric service reliability for customers in Bergen, Camden, Essex and Union Counties.

• Energizing 15 new 69,000-volt substations and associated lines. The new networks provide increased local transmission supply capacity to customers across our service area, including many living in Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Passaic and Union counties.

Similar activity has been taking place at JCP&L.

“Each year we target the completion of significant enhancements and upgrades and repairs prior to the summer season and that helps make our electrical system more robust,” utility spokesman Ron Morano said.

That work includes upgrading transmission and substation equipment, modernizing distribution circuitry and trimming trees along 1,500 miles of lines.

“We’ve completed work on part of a $48 million project that involved adding a 115,000 volt line between Manalapan and Hightstown to enhance service in Middlesex, Mercer and Monmouth counties. And a substation upgrade has been completed in Old Bridge.”

“We inspect all of our circuits. We do infrared inspections to see where there might be equipment issues that have hot spots where we need to make repairs. And we do helicopter patrols of our transmission lines to look for areas that might require attention."

He pointed out other projects that have been completed include:

• Upgrading a 34.5 kilovolt line out of a substation in Wharton to increase
transmission capacity in Morris County.

• Upgrading a 34.5 kilovolt line out of a substation in Phillipsburg to
increase transmission capacity and provide additional system flexibility in
Warren County.

• Completing 42 distribution circuit upgrades, including 15 in Sussex County, and installing new wire, animal guards, lightning arrestors, fuses, cross arms, spacer cable brackets and switches to limit the frequency and duration of power outages.