Lodi Elec­tric Util­ity works hard to avoid power out­ages dur­ing heat wave

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By Danielle Vaughn

As tem­per­a­tures con­tinue to heat up in Lodi, many res­i­dents may won­der how the heat will af­fect the elec­tric grid — or will there be power out­ages?

Ac­cord­ing to Lodi Elec­tric Util­ity Director Liz Kirkley, typ­i­cally when it gets hot there is a lot more de­mand on the sys­tem and older ca­bles, and con­nec­tions can be com­pro­mised by the ex­cess heat caused by ex­cess elec­tric­ity flow­ing through them. How­ever, Kirkley said the city has a very proac­tive main­te­nance pro­gram and re­places old ca­ble wires and equip­ment in an ef­fort to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing. A ma­jor­ity of the power out­ages that have oc­curred so far this sum­mer have not been due to heat, Kirkley said, but due to bal­loons and ro­dents.

In ad­di­tion to out­ages and over­heat­ing of the equip­ment, in­creases in elec­tric­ity costs due to in­creased us­age is also a con­cern. While the in­crease in us­age may re­sult in cus­tomers see­ing a credit on the elec­tric bill dur­ing the sum­mer months due to en­ergy cost ad­just­ments, the sav­ings may not be sig­nif­i­cant com­pared to the in­crease they will see in their bills from higher us­age.

“As us­age goes up, so does their bill, but if power costs go down and us­age goes up the ECA is ei­ther lower or ac­tu­ally is cred­ited back to them,” she said. “There’s mul­ti­ple fac­tors in­volved so it varies de­pend­ing on the cost of the elec­tric­ity and the us­age.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lodi Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Man­ager Adam Brucker, who over­sees en­ergy con­ser­va­tion for the city, whether or not res­i­dents will see a spike in their elec­tric bill dur­ing the sum­mer months will vary de­pend­ing on how ef­fi­cient their home is.

In­creases in elec­tric bills will be a lot less in homes that have bet­ter in­su­la­tion and more ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances. Older homes with less in­su­la­tion or that haven’t been weath­er­ized will see higher en­ergy us­age re­sult­ing in a higher bill, Brucker said.

The num­ber of peo­ple in the home can also af­fect how much the elec­tric bill can in­crease dur­ing the sum­mer months.

In an ef­fort to con­serve and stay cool at the same time, Kirkley said that in her home she turns off the air con­di­tioner in the evenings, opens up the win­dows and turns on fans so they don’t have to use their air con­di­tion­ing. In the morn­ing be­fore she leaves for work she closes all the doors and win­dows in the house in or­der to keep all the hot air out and she keeps the blinds closed and leaves her ther­mo­stat set at 80 de­grees.

In or­der to con­serve while stay­ing cool, Brucker rec­om­mends that when res­i­dents are at home they set their ther­mo­stat to 78 de­grees or higher and turn their air con­di­tioner off when they are go­ing to bed or are go­ing to be out of the house for a long pe­riod.

He also sug­gests that res­i­dents hang cloth­ing out to dry in­stead of us­ing a dryer.

Ac­cord­ing to Brucker, us­ing other ap­pli­ances such as an oven or a wash­ing ma­chine in the evening when its cooler will also help to save en­ergy.

He en­cour­ages res­i­dents to check the fil­ters in their air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems at least two times a year be­tween May and Septem­ber to en­sure that they are get­ting max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency out of their units.

Brucker said fans use less en­ergy than run­ning the air con­di­tioner be­cause they can be used to cool a sin­gle space in­stead of the en­tire home.

Un­plug­ging ex­tra ap­pli­ances can also help to lower en­ergy us­age, Brucker said.

“Some peo­ple have an ex­tra freezer or re­frig­er­a­tor in their garage and typ­i­cally the garage gets very hot dur­ing the sum­mer months so that means that ap­pli­ance is work­ing over­time to try to keep up and that could be re­ally in­ef­fi­cient and will def­i­nitely be re­flected on your power bill,” Brucker said.

“If you don’t need that ap­pli­ance we just rec­om­mend that you un­plug it and leave any­thing per­ish­able in the in­side re­frig­er­a­tor.”

Turn­ing off lights and tele­vi­sions can also keep things cool while con­serv­ing en­ergy, he sug­gested.

Like Kirkley, Brucker also sug­gested clos­ing all doors, win­dows and blinds to keep the sun from pen­e­trat­ing the home.

“As us­age goes up, so does their bill, but if power costs go down and us­age goes up the ECA is ei­ther lower or ac­tu­ally is cred­ited back to them. There’s mul­ti­ple fac­tors in­volved so it varies de­pend­ing on the cost of the elec­tric­ity and the us­age.” LODI ELEC­TRIC UTIL­ITY DIRECTOR LIZ KIRKLEY

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