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West Penn Power Enhances Service Reliability Through Summer Season

July 2, 2021
The FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary is conducting inspections and focusing on maintenance to improve reliability.

With the hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage and potentially severe weather, West Penn Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance in its 24-county western and central Pennsylvania service area to enhance service reliability for customers. The company is also ready to respond to power outages caused during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through November 30 and is forecast to be more active than normal this year. 

Helicopter patrols have completed inspections of more than 1,700 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located in the West Penn Power 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 are being prioritized and addressed.

On the ground, the summer readiness inspections include using thermovision cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with West Penn Power substation equipment such as transformers and capacitors. By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring.

West Penn Power utility crews also are conducting inspections of 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.

"Our customers fight searing summer heat and humidity with fans and air conditioning to stay comfortable," said John Rea, regional president of West Penn Power. "To help ensure our system is reliable and prepared for increased electrical demand when temperatures soar, we proactively inspect and maintain our equipment."

Tree trimming is another key to preparing the West Penn Power system to meet the rigors of summer operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. West Penn Power tree contractors have trimmed about 2,000 circuit miles of electric lines since January and expect to trim another 2,800 miles by year end.

West Penn Power last month completed its annual emergency preparedness drill designed to prepare employees assigned to storm restoration duties and review restoration processes and storm-management tools critical to safely and quickly getting the lights back on. Storm drills are becoming more common in the utility industry in the wake of severe weather over the last several years.

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