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Temperatures Rise: Can The Power Grid Take The Heat?

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DETROIT (WWJ) – With a Heat Advisory in effect in southeast Michigan, it’s safe to say that many people will be seeking out ways to beat the heat – including cranking up their air conditioners.

While the added use could a put strain on the local power grid, DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says he has confidence in the system.

“During these periods of extremely hot weather, power lines, transformers and other pieces of equipment operate continuously under extremely high demand and they don’t get the chance to cool down, so that can cause some localized problems,” said Simons.

Even though southeast Michigan doesn’t typically experience this type of heat, Simons says they don’t anticipate any widespread outages.

“… We’re continuing to watch the weather and monitor the stability of our system and while we don’t anticipate any wide spread power problems, we may see some isolated, localized problems over the next day or two,” said Simons.

Simons said customers can take easy steps to help to reduce stress on the system.

“Simply raising the air conditioning temperature to 80 degrees or the highest comfortable level and [differing] use of washers, dryers, ovens, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, [and] swimming pool filters until after 9 p.m. … will not only put less stress on the system but it will also take some heat out of their own homes,” said Simons.

Simons says DTE Energy is constantly working to maintain the system.

“… We maintain the system on a year-round basis,” said Simons.  “We put hundreds of millions of dollars into (it), so we feel we’re pretty well prepared for this weather.“

In the meantime, Simons said the Fermi II plant is still offline, but there are no concerns about a power shortage.

“… Both the Midwest Independent System Operator, which controls the electrical grid in Michigan and in the Midwest, as well as us, maintain reserves to cover for potential outages as we plan for the summer cooling season,” said Simons.

There were some power outages across the region on Thursday. DTE said an outage in Ann Arbor was due to a fire in a transformer. It was  unclear if any of the other outages were a result of the heat.

A Heat Advisory remains in effect through Saturday. 

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 for Traffic and Weather on the 8s, 24-hours a day. Sign up for Weather Alerts by Texting FORECAST to 95001 and recieve a once daily weather report.   (CLICK HERE for a list of local cooking centers).

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