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Penelec Conducts Inspections, Maintenance to Enhance Service Reliability through Summer

June 18, 2021
Inspections and maintenance to help ensure system reliability, prepare for increased electrical demand when temperatures soar.

With the hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage and potentially severe weather, Pennsylvania Electric Co. (Penelec), a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance in its 31-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 Nov. 30 and is forecast to be more active than normal this year.

Cost-effective helicopter patrols have completed inspections of more than 2500 miles of transmission lines in the Penelec 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 will be addressed.

On the ground, Penelec crews are 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 because of air conditioning usage.

The summer readiness inspections include using thermovision cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with Penelec substation equipment such as transformers and capacitors. By identifying hotspots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring.

"Our customers fight searing summer heat and humidity with fans and air conditioning to stay comfortable," said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania Operations. "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 Penelec's system to meet the rigors of summer operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. Penelec tree contractors have trimmed approximately 1750 circuit miles of electric transmission and distribution lines since January and expect to trim another 2450 miles by year end.

In addition, a team of Penelec and FirstEnergy employees recently performed readiness exercises to test the company's restoration process used to repair storm-related power outages. Storm drills are becoming more common in the utility industry in the wake of severe weather over the last several years.

For more information on preparing for severe weather or for updates if storms do cause power outages, visit the 24x7 Power Center here.

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