Penn Power continues grid modernization efforts

Sharon, Pennsylvania-based Penn Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. company in western Pennsylvania, announced Monday that it would continue grid modernization efforts by expanding its smart grid in Mercer and Crawford counties.

The company said it would be installing new automated equipment and technology in distribution substations and on neighborhood power lines to reinforce the local power system and prevent service disruptions. The work is part of the company’s second phase Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP II), which the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved in December 2017.

“Penn Power has made significant investments in smart grid technologies in recent years, helping enhance our reliability performance and piloting new devices that our sister utilities have since begun to implement successfully within their own service areas,” said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania operations. “We remain committed to modernizing the technology and equipment used to provide safe, dependable electric service to our customers.”

Crews will install 30 new automated reclosing devices in substations and along neighborhood power lines. These devices will act like circuit breakers to shut down power when trouble occurs. The devices can also power back up within seconds during certain outages to keep power flowing to customers, the company said. Officials said the technology made power lines safer and more efficient because they allowed utility personnel to restore service without having to send a crew to investigate.

Crews will also install automated voltage regulators to ensure safe, constant voltage levels flow along power lines even in high-demand situations. These devices are expected to help provide energy savings by evenly distributing electricity. Lastly, crews will construct additional power lines to provide more flexibility during power outages due to storms and vehicle accidents. The new power lines will reduce the length of outages and the number of customers affected by outages by switching them to a backup line.

Work on the system builds upon upgrades completed in recent years across Penn Power’s service area in Mercer and Crawford counties. Work is expected to be completed in December. Penn Power provides electric service to more than 160,000 customers in western Pennsylvania.

Liz Carey

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