With upcoming hot, humid summer months expected to produce higher electric usage, Pennsylvania Electric Co. (Penelec), a FirstEnergy Corp. unit, is completing inspections and conducting equipment maintenance in its 31-county western and central Pennsylvania service area territory to enhance service reliability for customers.
Cost-effective helicopter patrols have completed inspections on about 2,500 miles of transmission lines located 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 immediately.
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 due to air conditioning usage.
In addition, a team of Penelec and FirstEnergy employees recently conducted 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.
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 more than 1,100 circuit miles of electric distribution lines since January and expect to trim another 2,700 miles by year end.
Penelec serves about 600,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties.