Utility officials in South Jersey are hoping the weather calms down after the past couple of weeks.

Since the end of June, hundreds of thousands of South Jersey customers have been knocked off-line by severe wind storms, a heat-wave, severe thunderstorms and multiple lightening strikes.

Matt Likovich, a spokesman for Atlantic City Electric, says the wind storms that knocked down thousands of power poles may have been the worst ever to hit South Jersey- and the extreme conditions that have affected the region since have put a severe strain on the entire electric grid.

" There have been some instances," he says, "where because of the heat, the lines - so much energy is going through them- they sag, they come into contact with a tree branch or a tree itself and that causes a short circuit or an outage…Basically there's not a whole lot you can do about this - it's just deal with the elements as they come…You couple the extreme heat with just the high demand for energy and it just puts a lot of stress on the system - let's say you drove your automobile at 90 miles an hour - 22 hours a day for 10 days in a row - at the end of that time period the engine would be stressed."

He says, "It's been difficult - in this business you're pretty much on-call on a regular basis…Sometimes Mother Nature is dictating how things play out - we do take precautions - we've beefed up our infrastructure over the years with a lot new equipment- and you put things on your equipment like lightening arresters and things of that nature but if Mother Nature wants to strike somewhere - where the lightening arrester is not located, then you still have issues, and it comes to lightening hitting equipment- popping out transformers."

Likovich adds, "There's myriad things that can crop up - you try to avoid some of these things but a lot times you just have to deal with the elements as they come and be ready to react…I tell you it's been challenging for the last week to 10 days - it's really been an interesting scenario…I would think hopefully we're going to get a chance to catch our breath here and return a little bit to normalcy when it comes to the weather."