Penn Power prepares system for summer heat, severe weather

Published on June 22, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, has conducted extensive equipment inspections, maintenance, and upgrades to prepare the electric system for extreme heat and severe weather this summer.

The effort builds upon the equipment and technology upgrades the company has made to its electric grid in western Pennsylvania over recent years.

“We proactively inspect, maintain and upgrade our equipment to minimize the length and impact of service interruptions that are often caused by events out of our control, like severe weather,” Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania operations, said. “This year alone, FirstEnergy plans to invest more than $20 million in new automated technology and equipment upgrades across the Penn Power service area to help keep power flowing to our customers in all types of weather conditions.”

The company used thermovision cameras to help detect potential problems within substations and on power lines that cannot be spotted during regular visual inspections. The infrared technology shows heat on a color scale, with brighter colors or “hot spots” indicating areas that could need repairs. The technology helps workers identify equipment issues, such as loose connections, corrosion, and load imbalances, in need of repairs.

Additionally, Penn Power is finishing the construction of a new distribution substation in Cranberry, located in Butler County. The project includes the installation of automated equipment and technology within the new substation and along power lines serving more than 20,000 customers. The facility will be operational by the end of the summer.

Further, Penn Power crews are inspecting electrical equipment, like transformers, located along neighborhood power lines and within substations to ensure the infrastructure is ready to perform reliably when demand for electricity increases during the summer. In addition, helicopter patrols have inspected nearly 750 miles of high-voltage power lines owned by American Transmission Systems, a FirstEnergy transmission subsidiary. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, and other hardware problems not visible from the ground.

Finally, Penn Power and FirstEnergy employees have participated in readiness exercises and drills throughout the year to test the company’s storm restoration process.