In preparation for winter, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance on weather-sensitive equipment across its service area.
Winter's cold temperatures produce increased demand for electricity, and heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations, requiring crews to make repairs in difficult conditions. Completing inspections and maintenance of equipment now can help to enhance system reliability when the snow begins to fly.
"Our winter maintenance procedures for equipment, combined with taking steps to prepare our vehicles for winter temperatures, helps enhance service reliability for our customers," said John Skory, regional president of The Illuminating Company. "The more prepared we are for winter conditions, the more reliable our system will be."
The work includes inspecting heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers, and oil- and gas-filled circuit breakers. Some substations also include buildings that house remote-controlled relay equipment. These structures will be winterized and have the heating systems checked.
Company bucket trucks and other vehicles also are being inspected to help ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and any air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present. In addition, snow removal equipment is being checked. Plows are used to help crews gain access to substations, and to clear the work areas and sidewalks at company service garages and other facilities.
Helicopter patrols also are completing inspections on more than 1,200 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located in CEI's service 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 may then be addressed.
In addition, tree trimming throughout the year helps meet the rigors of winter operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. CEI tree contractors have trimmed more than 1,900 circuit miles of electric lines since January and expect to trim another 150 miles by year end.
Employee safety also is a priority during the winter. CEI's cold-weather operational procedures are reviewed with linemen, substation electricians, and meter readers in advance of any frigid conditions. CEI personnel often take extra measures to stay warm when working in extreme cold to restore power after an outage. Crews also could be delayed by treacherous driving conditions.