Penelec is working to conducting inspections and maintenance to help enhance customer service reliability throughout the summer.
"With the summer heat upon us, Penelec has undertaken numerous proactive inspections designed to prepare our system for increased electric usage from air conditioning and be ready for severe storms," said Todd Meyers, local Penelec spokesman.
With the hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage and potentially severe weather, Penelec, a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, is completing the inspections and conducting equipment maintenance across its 31-county western and central Pennsylvania service area territory to better the service.
Cost-effective helicopter patrols have completed inspections of more than 2,500 miles of transmission lines 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 will be addressed, according to Penelec.
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 such as transformers and capacitors. By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring.
“The summer heat and humidity results in our customers using more fans and air conditioning to stay cool,” said Nick Austin, Penelec regional president. “We proactively inspect and maintain our equipment to help ensure system reliability to meet the increased demand for electricity when temperatures soar and our customers depend on us to help them remain comfortable.”
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 approximately 2,000 circuit miles of electric transmission and distribution lines since January and expect to trim another 2,300 miles by year 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 over the last several years.
Penelec serves approximately 585,000 customers within 17,600 square miles of northern and central Pennsylvania.