Mon Power inspects, repairs power grid in West Virginia

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To better prepare for the summer months, Mon Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. unit, is completing projects, inspections, and equipment maintenance across its 34-county Mon Power service territory in north central West Virginia to enhance service reliability for customers.

Cost-effective helicopter patrols have completed inspections on nearly 2,100 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located in the Mon 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 will be addressed.

On the ground, the inspections include using "thermovision" cameras to capture infrared images that can detect potential problems with Mon Power 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 Mon Power crews includes inspecting distribution circuits, including transformers and capacitors 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.

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. Mon Power tree contractors have trimmed about 1,500 circuit miles of electric lines since January and expect to trim another 3,000 miles by year end.

Crews also are finishing work on several projects designed to enhance the reliability of Mon Power's electric system in time for the summer, including:

·      Inspecting and making necessary repairs to nearly 600 capacitor banks on Mon Power's distribution system. The equipment provides voltage support to the distribution lines during times of heavy electrical usage, particularly for summertime cooling needs.

·      Replacing protective equipment and installing fiber optic cable in a transmission substation near Weirton to enhance communications with other substations. The protective equipment is designed to operate automatically and quickly if faults or other adverse conditions are detected on the grid.

In addition, a team of Mon Power and FirstEnergy employees recently conducted a readiness exercise 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.

Mon Power's power plants also are making preparations to meet the expected demand for electricity this summer. Plant personnel have done inspections and performed maintenance on key operational systems to ensure the power stations will be available during extreme heat conditions. In addition, if maintenance is needed throughout the summer, the work will be scheduled around periods of peak demand in order to ensure that generation is available when it is most needed.

Mon Power, a FirstEnergy electric distribution company, serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.

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