AKRON, Ohio, May 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Electricity demand could be at an all-time high in downtown Cleveland when the Republican National Convention takes center stage in July of 2016. FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and The Illuminating Company have spent more than $3 million on infrastructure inspections, maintenance and employee training, including a series of readiness exercises, to help ensure reliable electric service for the week-long event.
The electricity being used in downtown Cleveland on a typical July day is about six megawatts (MW), with one MW equaling the amount of electricity used to power about 1,000 homes. During the convention, the company anticipates that power usage could jump an additional 3-4 MW, especially if the weather is hot and humid.
"Our system in downtown Cleveland was designed to safely handle the increased electrical load expected during the Republican National Convention," said John Skory, regional president, The Illuminating Company. "With the inspections and maintenance we have completed, combined with readiness exercises and other employee training we have conducted, our goal is to maintain the same level of reliable electric service for the convention that we currently provide our Cleveland and northeast Ohio customers on a daily basis."
Comprehensive Inspections and Maintenance Completed at Key Locations
While the event doesn't begin until July 18, The Illuminating Company is aiming to have all field work, inspections, repairs, and functional tests in downtown Cleveland completed before the end of May.
As part of this process, The Illuminating Company has completed comprehensive inspections, done maintenance work on the electrical equipment, and tested back-up systems at Quicken Loan Arena and the Cleveland Convention Center, the two main venues being used for convention events.
The preparation efforts also have included inspecting electric equipment serving hotels, entertainment venues, local airports and other facilities that are expected to be busy in Cleveland and surrounding areas, including those in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Summit counties, as a result of the estimated 50,000 visitors being in northeast Ohio for the convention activities.
Readiness Drills Conducted Involving Multiple Scenarios; Employees Will Be Pre-Staged at Key Downtown Locations
In addition to the inspections, on Thursday, May 5, a series of emergency readiness exercises were conducted to help ensure employees are well prepared for a variety of scenarios that could affect electric service during the convention, including severe weather, equipment-related issues, or other events.
"Our employees have been working hard since last year to ensure that our system is ready for the convention," said Skory. "Whether it be a summer storm, a heatwave, or increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in Cleveland affecting our employees' ability to quickly access locations in the downtown area, we will be ready to safely and effectively keep the lights on for our out-of-town visitors and regular customers."
Plans also are being finalized to pre-stage employees and equipment 24/7 at Quicken Loan Arena, the Convention Center, the Illuminating Company's line shop on E. 24th Street, and substations serving downtown Cleveland to ensure an immediate response, if needed. Employees staged at these key facilities will undergo background checks in order to be able to access the secure zone.
During the run of the Republican National Convention, all Illuminating Company employees will be available for assignment. Thousands of other FirstEnergy employees also will be involved, as needed, including those from its Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, Pennsylvania Power and Pennsylvania Electric Company utilities, to help maintain electric service outside the downtown Cleveland area, as needed, during the event. Overall, more than 500 Illuminating Company and FirstEnergy employees have been actively involved in preparation efforts.
The company's preparation efforts have been coordinated with local, state and federal officials and agencies, including the City of Cleveland and Cleveland Public Power, the Regional Transit Authority, the United States Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, and the company hired by the Republican National Committee to stage the event.
The Illuminating Company serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Follow The Illuminating Company on Twitter @IlluminatingCo and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IlluminatingCo.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, while its generation subsidiaries control nearly 17,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro and other renewables. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp or online at www.firstenergycorp.com.
Editor's Note: Photos of some of the work that has been done by The Illuminating Company and FirstEnergy to prepare for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July are available for download on Flickr.
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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.