Penelec conducting inspections
READING — With the hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage and potentially severe weather, Pennsylvania Electric Co., a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance across its 31-county western and central Pennsylvania service area territory to enhance service reliability for customers.
Helicopter patrols have completed inspections of more than 2,500 miles of transmission lines 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 will be addressed.
On the ground, Penelec crews are inspecting 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.
The summer readiness inspections include using “thermovision” cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with Penelec substation equipment. By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to an outage occurring.
“The summer heat and humidity results in our customers using more fans and air conditioning to stay cool,” Nick Austin, Penelec regional president, said in a statement.
Tree trimming is another key to preparing Penelec’s system to meet the rigors of summer operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. Penelec tree contractors have trimmed about 2,000 circuit miles of electric transmission and distribution lines since January and expect to trim another 2,300 miles by year’s end.
In addition, a team of Penelec and FirstEnergy employees recently performed readiness exercises 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 in the last several years.
Summer is also when roofers, homebuilders, lawn service workers and other contractors work long hours. FirstEnergy offers tips to help stay safe around electrical equipment while on the job at www.firstenergy corp.com/contractorsafety.
Penelec serves about 585,000 customers within 17,600 square miles of northern and central Pennsylvania.