As the official start of summer approaches, utility companies in New Jersey are preparing themselves for the inevitable spike in power demand as the thermometer rises.

(Arman Davtyan, ThinkStock)
(Arman Davtyan, ThinkStock)

Both JCP&L and PSE&G have invested millions of dollars on infrastructure and equipment improvements for the summer of 2014. The improvements include a new 230 kilovolt transformer and circuit breaker at the Raritan River substation in Sayreville. The equipment  will increase transmission capacity, according to JCP&L spokesperson Ron Morano.

Upgrades were also made by JCP&L at stations in Millburn Township and Oakridge to increase service in Essex and Morris County.

"We've modernized circuits throughout our service territory by implementing what we call an automatic circuit switching scheme that enables us to switch customers to adjacent circuits and that help minimize power outage," said Morano.

The JCP&L spokesman adds a new "recloser" device allows them to restore customers after a momentary interruptions.

Additionally, helicopters surveyed 750 miles of power lines looking for "damaged wires, poles, or cross arms."

PSE&G said $2.2 billion in improvements have been made to electric and gas infrastructure, including $50 million to replace nine aging transformers in Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, and Burlington counties.

"We're also spending about $390 million on what we call the North Central Reliability project. This is a multi-year project we've been working on to upgrade service for ten substations; serving customers in Essex, Union, and Middlesex Counties. It's going to provide extra load capacity, from 138,000 to 230,000 volts, which means on a hot summer day there's going to be more juice to power everyone's air conditioners," said Kristine Lloyd, spokesperson for PSE&G.

In addition to heavy usage from air conditioners and fans, summer often has powerful thunderstorm that can knock down tree limbs and cause downed wires. Lloyd said PSE&G spent $35 million on tree trimming in preparation for the summer.


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