West Penn Power is completing work on approximately $17 million of electrical system projects as part of its 2016 Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan, a multi-year program specifically designed to help reduce the number and duration of potential power outages experienced by the company's 720,000 customers.
The projects include installing enhanced protective devices on wires and poles, replacing or rebuilding electric lines, adding other special equipment, and installing automated and remote control devices.
"These projects benefit customers by complementing the work we already do each year to enhance the reliability of our electric system," said David W. McDonald, regional president of West Penn Power. "Our goal is to make our system the best it can be when it comes to limiting the number and duration of outages our customers experience."
West Penn Power's Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan was approved earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Ultimately, this five-year program will result in an additional $88 million being spent through 2020 on targeted distribution infrastructure enhancement projects to help reduce service interruptions in the West Penn Power service area.
Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan projects completed this year in the West Penn Power service area include:
- Spending approximately $3.5 million to install new electronic circuit breakers, or reclosers, on 26 circuits in substations near Houston and Washington in Washington County, and Vandergrift, Jeanette and Lower Burrell in Westmoreland County. The devices can be operated remotely from the company dispatch center, providing operators the ability to restore power more quickly and efficiently than if a crew was needed to investigate a problem.
- Installing remote-controlled switches on higher-voltage distribution circuits at 45 locations both in substations and on overhead lines throughout West Penn Power's service area at a cost of about $3 million. The new controls allow automatic and remote switching to help limit the number of customers affected when an outage occurs, and are engineered to shorten the duration of outages and allow for large blocks of customers to be more quickly restored.
- Spending about $2.7 million to install new fuses, wire and other equipment on more than 80 overhead circuits throughout West Penn Power's service area, particularly at points where distribution circuits branch into smaller sections. The new equipment can automatically sense system irregularities and stop the flow of electricity, helping to limit the scope of outages and reduce the duration.
- Rebuilding portions of 38 distribution circuits at a cost of about $2.5 million, including replacing electrical components such as switches, cross arms, transformers, capacitors and insulators to help prevent outages caused by equipment issues throughout West Penn Power's service area. The work also included the installation of animal guards.
- Replacing underground residential distribution cable with insulated, corrosion-resistant cable to help prevent outages and reduce the time necessary to locate and repair faults beneath the ground. This year, about 1.0 miles of underground distribution cable was replaced in Quail Acres in Washington County at a cost of about $440,000. Approximately $100,000 also is expected to be spent to install a new underground line into Saybrook Village near Greensburg as part of a multi-year initiative to replace underground cable throughout the housing development.