GREENSBURG, Pa., June 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- With the hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage and potentially severe weather, West Penn Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) subsidiary, is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance across its 24-county western and central Pennsylvania service territory to enhance service reliability for customers.
Helicopter patrols have completed inspections of more than 1,700 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located in the West Penn Power area. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, failed insulators and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Potential reliability issues identified during the inspection are being prioritized and addressed.
On the ground, the summer readiness inspections include using "thermovision" cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with West Penn Power substation equipment such as transformers and capacitors. By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring.
West Penn Power utility crews also are conducting inspections of distribution circuits, including transformers, capacitors, reclosers and lightning arrestors to ensure the equipment is operational and the lines are ready to perform efficiently when demand for electricity increases during the summer, typically due to air conditioning usage.
"Our customers turn up their air conditioning to keep cool during sweltering summer weather," said John Rea, regional president of West Penn Power. "We proactively inspect and maintain our equipment to ensure system reliability to meet the increased electrical demand when temperatures soar and customers depend on us to help them stay comfortable."
Tree trimming is another key to preparing the West Penn Power system to meet the rigors of summer operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. West Penn Power tree contractors have trimmed about 2,000 circuit miles of electric lines since January and expect to trim another 2,600 miles by year end.
In addition, a team of West Penn Power and FirstEnergy employees perform readiness drills to test the company's restoration process used to repair storm-related power outages. Storm drills are becoming more common in the utility industry in the wake of severe weather over the last several years.
In addition to the work being done by company employees, summer also is a time when roofers, home builders, lawn service workers and other contractors work long hours. To help stay safe around electrical equipment while on the job, FirstEnergy offers important tips at www.firstenergycorp.com/contractorsafety.
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 approximately 24,500 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Editor's Note: Photos of workers conducting thermovision inspections to enhance service reliability for FirstEnergy customers are available for download on Flickr. A video of utility personnel conducting a thermovision inspection and explaining the work can be found on the company's YouTube channel.