Ahead of the cold winter months, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is conducting inspections and completing equipment maintenance across its 3,200-square-mile service area to enhance service reliability for customers while they rely on power to stay safe and comfortable.
The drop in temperatures creates a greater demand for electricity, and heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations. Completing inspections and equipment maintenance now can help to keep power flowing to customers and prevent the need for difficult repairs in challenging conditions as snow begins to pile up.
"These proactive measures will help ensure that our system will be ready to perform safely and reliably once the cold weather returns and inclement weather conditions follow," said James V. Fakult, president of JCP&L. "By preparing our equipment and vehicles for the challenges of winter weather, we can keep power flowing to customers and our teams safe in the months ahead."
The work includes tuning up heating equipment for substation components and the winterization of substation buildings that house remote-controlled equipment to ensure that essential components of the company's electric system continue to function properly during cold weather. Substation electricians also inspect batteries used to power equipment that senses abnormal conditions in the system and motors that operate switches to isolate those problems, helping to prevent or minimize service interruptions.
Helicopter inspections have been completed along transmission lines located throughout the JCP&L service area to look for hardware problems that are not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspections are addressed to help prevent disruptions to electric service.
Tree trimming throughout the year also helps reinforce the power system ahead of the winter season by maintaining proper clearances around electrical equipment and helping to protect against tree-related outages caused by ice and heavy, wet snow on branches. JCP&L's tree contractors have completed trimming work along 2,970 miles of electric lines to date this year, and they are on track to complete an additional 285 miles of tree trimming by the end of December.
Additionally, company bucket trucks and other vehicles are being serviced to help ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present. In addition, snow removal equipment is being checked to help ensure utility personnel can safely access work sites and company facilities.
With safety being a core value at FirstEnergy, managers also use this time to review cold-weather safety procedures with field employees, including how to traverse slippery conditions to avoid slips and falls. They are also reminded to hydrate and take frequent breaks in warm trucks to avoid frostbite and maintain sharp mental focus. Special emphasis is placed on safe winter driving to ensure crews arrive safely at work sites.