READING, Pa., Nov. 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is preparing for winter by conducting inspections and equipment maintenance on weather-sensitive equipment across its service area.
Winter's cold temperatures can increase demand for electricity, and heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations, requiring crews to make repairs in difficult conditions. Completing inspections and equipment maintenance now can help enhance system resiliency to keep power flowing to customers when the snow begins to fly.
"Conducting winter maintenance procedures for our infrastructure and readying our vehicles for winter operations ensures our crews and system are ready to perform when the weather turns cold and snow begins to fall," said Scott Wyman, regional president of Penelec. "Preparing now for potential severe weather conditions helps enhance the service we provide to our customers."
The work includes inspecting heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers and oil- and gas-filled circuit breakers. Some substations also include buildings that house remote-controlled relay equipment. These structures will be winterized and have the heating systems checked.
Substation electricians also inspect batteries used to power relays that sense faults on the network and motors that automatically operate switches to isolate those problems, helping to prevent or reduce service interruptions. Crews use special thermal-imaging cameras to detect hot spots invisible to the naked eye on equipment that could malfunction as customers crank up their heaters to combat the cold.
Company bucket trucks and other vehicles also are being inspected to help ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present. In addition, snow removal equipment is being checked.
Helicopter patrols also are completing inspections on approximately 2,500 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located in the Penelec area. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, failed insulators, and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspection may then be addressed.
Tree trimming throughout the year also helps meet the rigors of winter operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. Penelec tree contractors are trimming along approximately 4,000 circuit miles of electric lines this year.
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. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp or online at www.firstenergycorp.com.