PSEG says 75,000 lose power in New Jersey amid heat

HOUSTON, June 9 Mon Jun 9, 2008 5:20pm EDT

HOUSTON, June 9 (Reuters) - Public Service Enterprise Group's (PEG.N) New Jersey utility reported about 75,000 customers lost electric service on Monday after a breaker failed, causing a fire at a switching station in West Orange, the company said.

Much of the East Coast is sweltering under the third day of a heat wave that has brought record temperatures to New York and other cities. Heat advisories have been issued.

PSE&G officials could not say whether Monday's outage was caused by the excessive heat. Other outages were reported elsewhere in New Jersey and Maryland, but electric grid agencies reported no widespread problems due to the heat.

PSE&G said a breaker failed shortly before 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). To prevent damage to other equipment, the switching station was shut, affecting other stations.

Communities affected by the blackout include South Orange, East Orange, West Orange, Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Caldwell and Verona.

The utility is working to restore service but offered no timetable.

In Maryland, about 5,000 of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co's 1.25 million customers were without power Monday at about 4:30 p.m, the peak demand time of the day, the utility's Web site showed.

A spokeswoman for BG&E was not able to say whether the outages were heat-related.

Power grids in the mid-Atlantic and East held, said officials with PJM, which covers 13 states, and the New York Independent System Operator.

Both grid operators said electric demand on their respective systems was much higher than usual for mid-June, but not near record levels. Reserve margins that indicate the amount of power available compared to power demand, were adequate, said Ray Dotter of PJM and Ken Klapp of the NY ISO.

PJM, which stretches from North Carolina to Michigan, is the largest power grid operator in the United States. (Reporting by Eileen O'Grady and Bernard Woodall; editing by Jim Marshall)

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