As temperatures rise — with weather forecasts pointing to temperatures near 110 degrees across the Portland area on Sunday, June 27, and Monday, June 28 — Portland General Electric says it is getting ready to deal with the stress that heat may place on the regional power grid.
Power utilities deal with a "triple threat" in extreme heat waves. One, customers may draw significantly more power for air conditioners and other cooling equipment when it's hot out. Two, equipment that utilities rely on to distribute electricity across the grid can overheat, causing power outages. And three, crews performing maintenance and repair work outdoors are also susceptible to heat, and they should be cycled through to keep utility workers cool and rested as much as possible.
As PGE prepares for the heat wave, which is poised to shatter all-time records in Portland and Hillsboro, the utility said Thursday, June 24, that it has activated additional cooling systems on "essential distribution equipment" and work crews that will be on standby in case of power outages.
While the utility hopes to avoid power outages and quickly resolve any outages that do occur, PGE encourages customers to have an "outage preparedness kit" ready to go. Such a kit should include:
• A flashlight (ideally more than one).
• A battery-powered camp lantern.
• A battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
• A battery-powered clock.
• Extra batteries.
• Bottled water (especially for those who rely on electricity to pump water).
• A manual can/bottle opener.
• Disposable plates and utensils.
• Car chargers for mobile devices, laptops or tablet computers.
• Emergency phone numbers, including PGE outage numbers: 503-464-777 or 800-544-1795
Residents may also wish to include "comfort items," like a favorite book or deck of cards.
PGE recommends customers keep outage kits on hand regardless of the weather. If you don't have one at home already, now is a good time to put one together.
PGE is also asking customers to voluntarily limit their power usage and conserve energy.
"We're encouraging customers to take some simple steps that can help everyone," explained John Farmer, a PGE spokesperson, in an email outlining the steps the utility company is taking to prepare for the heat wave. "One of the most basic steps for people who have air conditioning is to simply turn the thermostat up a few degrees, which reduces power consumption. Another simple measure is to forego doing things like laundry during the heat wave, especially during daylight hours when demand is at the highest. Closing the blinds and lowering the shades can also help."
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