Yakima, Tri-Cities power companies say they’re prepared for heat wave

Hot weather means more people using their air conditioning and putting a stress on energy resources in the Pacific Northwest, but power companies in Yakima and the Tri-Cities said they’re prepared for the heat wave.

Officials from Pacific Power, which serves customers in the Yakima area, said there’s always a risk of outages in the heat, but they’ve completed 49 projects since last summer to make sure they’re ready for whatever happens this year.

“We did things like increase system and distribution capacity,” Pacific Power spokesperson Brandon Zero said. “We’ve installed new equipment such as switches, fuses voltage regulators.”

Zero said they’ve also been balancing and reconfiguring electrical pathways serving customers in specific areas to make power outages less likely.

Energy Northwest generates energy from its solar, hydroelectric, wind and nuclear facilities, which utility companies then distribute to customers around the Tri-Cities and across the region.

Kelly Rae, a spokesperson for the company, said luckily, with those sources of energy, they don’t have to worry about the heat as much.

“Nuclear power isn’t affected by the weather, necessarily,” Rae said. “Whether it’s, you know, bitterly cold or if it’s triple digits like today, really, when it comes to nuclear power,  it’s so resilient and reliable.”

Regardless of the ways power companies have prepared for the summer heat wave, Zero said it’s still a good idea for customers to do their part to ease stress on the power grids by conserving energy. He said doing that could also save them money.

According to Pacific Power, if you want to conserve energy, you can:

  • Set the thermostat as high as you’re comfortable going. Most power companies recommend 78 degrees or higher.
  • Clean or replace air conditioner filters regularly.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day.
  • Open windows in the evening if it’s cooler outside.
  • Use ceiling fans and portable fans to keep cool.
  • Minimize the amount of heat you create inside the house. Run dryers and dishwashers at night and use a microwave, toaster oven or outdoor grill instead of the oven.
  • Set your water heater to 120º and use efficient showerheads.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and clean the lint filter in the dryer after every use.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when you’re not using them.

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