Power outage in heat causes panic

Officials considered setting up shelters for senior citizens and others who could suffer health problems because of the high temperatures.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — With temperatures expected to near 100 degrees, and the heat index expected to surpass that marker Tuesday, some residents got a little panicky when the power went out for more than an hour that morning in the city and surrounding communities.
   "I’m roasting like a peanut!" a senior citizen said when she called 911 and was connected to the Lambertville police, a department spokeswoman said.
   Slightly after 9 a.m., Mayor David Del Vecchio was considering the possibility of opening a shelter for senior citizens and others who would suffer health problems because of the extreme heat. But the electricity returned before that decision became necessary.
   When the power switched back on, the Police Department happened to still be on the phone with the elderly woman who was "roasting like a peanut."
   The department’s spokeswoman stayed on the line to make sure the senior’s air conditioner came back on with no problems. When it did, she could hear the senior issue a relieved, "Ahhhh!"
   A similar "Ahhhh!" likely echoed throughout the area as the communities of Lambertville, West Amwell and Stockton regained power, and air conditioners clicked back on to provide relief from the heat that felt as smothering and heavy as a wet wool blanket.
   "JCP&L was extremely responsive," said David Burd, coordinator of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.
   About 5,200 JCP&L customers lost power from 9:13 to 9:17 a.m., and about 5,600 were without power from 9:13 to 10:12 a.m., according to company spokesman Dave File.
   It was unknown Tuesday what the root cause of the blackout was, Mr. File said. There was an equipment failure at the Rocktown substation in West Amwell Township.
   PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the power grid for the District of Columbia, New Jersey and 12 other states, set an unofficial record for peak energy use at 139,746 megawatts Monday at 5 p.m. The previous record of 133,763 megawatts was reached July 26, 2005. One megawatt is enough to power between 800 and 1,000 homes.
   PJM, which serves 51 million people, has asked citizens in the eastern United States to begin conservation measures, especially between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m., if health permits.
   The company said it expects to have enough electricity and issued the request for conservation as a precaution.