With the upcoming hot summer months expected to produce higher electrical demand, FirstEnergy Corp. is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance across its Potomac Edison area in western Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia that are intended to enhance service reliability.
Helicopter patrols are completing inspections on nearly 1,400 miles of FirstEnergy transmission line circuits located in the Potomac Edison area. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, failed insulators, and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Potential reliability issues identified during the inspection will be addressed immediately as necessary.
On the ground, the summer readiness inspections include using "thermovision" cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with Potomac Edison substation equipment such as transformers and capacitors. By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring.
Other utility work being done by Potomac Edison crews includes 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.
"Hot summer days and humid nights result in our customers using more air conditioning to stay cool," said James A. Sears, Jr., FirstEnergy's president of Maryland operations and vice president of Potomac Edison. "By proactively inspecting and maintaining our equipment, we are able to help ensure system reliability and meet this increased electrical load when temperatures climb and customers turn on their air conditioners."
Tree trimming is another key to preparing our system to meet the rigors of summer operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. Potomac Edison tree contractors have trimmed about 700 circuit miles of electric lines since January and expect to trim another 1,900 miles by year end.
In addition to regular inspections and repairs, crews are finishing work on several projects designed to enhance the reliability of Potomac Edison's transmission and distribution systems in time for the summer. These projects include:
- Rebuilding a 500-kilovolt transmission line in Frederick County, Maryland, to enhance service reliability for existing customers and to accommodate future electrical load growth in Maryland and West Virginia.
- Installing a new transformer and adding a new distribution circuit to the Davis Mill Substation in Montgomery County, Maryland, to accommodate accelerated growth in the Clarksburg and Germantown areas.
- Replacing equipment to increase the capacity of the Urbana Substation in Frederick County, Maryland, to serve customers in the rapidly growing Urbana area near Interstate 270.