Utility Companies Aim to Keep the Grid Powered | NECN

Utility Companies Aim to Keep the Grid Powered



    National Grid says extreme heat can mean power outages, and has tips on how to avoid one - and save money (Published Friday, Jan. 17, 2014)

    (NECN: Kristen Doucet) - For Worcester's Rocky Ace Hardware, the extreme heat means a spike in sales.

    Manager Peter Cole says the shelves are stocked and ready for business.

    "Every year we get a heat wave like this, we get a real big push of people coming in getting air conditioners, fans, extension cords, anything to keep cool," said Cole.

    A boom in business for hardware stores means a challenge for local utilities.

    National Grid's Marie Jordan says the extreme heat puts added stress on its infrastructure.

    She says the company bulks up on staff to make sure power stays steady.

    "We had about 80 additional personnel on staff last night, not everyone got deployed to work but we had them there just in case to help shorten wait time for the customer," said Jordan.

    National Grid responded to a power outage in Westborough, Mass. last night, which was something they weren't expecting.

    More than 1,000 customers were affected.

    "We did not anticipate that last night. We thought we were prepared there, but then we had an unusual equipment issue, it took us a little bit of time to diagnose the problem," said Jordan.

    The National Grid control center in Northborough is one of six centers in New England that works to maintain reliability.

    National Grid's Will Houston says when there's problem, they know about it first.

    "We get an alarm, the operation displays light up and then we respond accordingly and that basically involves sending out crews out to the field to respond to the outage," said Houston.

    Jordan says during the summer, the majority of power outages come from heat stresses on equipment.

    But - she says - residents can help.

    She says close your blinds, replace air conditioner filters and keep temperatures above 75 degrees.

    "Just moving your air conditioner dial from 75 to 78 can save customers 18 percent on their energy bill," said Jordan. "It not only helps the customer, it really helps National Grid during those peak load periods."