Nuclear, coal and natural gas generating stations owned by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia today have completed preparations that support reliable operations during the hot summer months.
The National Weather Service has predicted that most of the continental United States, including areas served by FirstEnergy's utilities, will experience above-average temperatures from June through August 2016. The comprehensive preventive maintenance work performed at FirstEnergy's three non-emitting nuclear facilities, six coal-fired generating stations and six natural gas and oil plants will help the company meet customers' electricity needs when air conditioning use increases.
"Preparing to meet the higher electricity demands of summer through safe, clean and reliable operations is our main objective at this time of year," said Jim Lash, president, FirstEnergy Generation. "We have invested thousands of hours completing summer preparation activities, and our plants are ready to meet customer needs as energy consumption rises along with the temperature."
To prepare for warmer temperatures, plant operators inspect and perform maintenance on air conditioning, ventilation fans and other cooling systems; perform water treatments to prevent algae and zebra mussel growth in cooling towers and condensers; clear trenches and sumps in preparation for heavy rains; and closely monitor for severe weather. Summer operation procedures are thoroughly reviewed to help ensure safe and reliable plant performance during extreme heat conditions. FirstEnergy will also stay in close contact with PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, to avoid scheduling plant maintenance work during periods of high electricity demand.
Summer preparations also were supported through activities completed during scheduled maintenance outages at FirstEnergy generating facilities this spring. At the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio, two new 9,000-horsepower motors were installed to drive pumps providing 100,000 gallons of water per minute to the reactor. Drone technology was used to inspect exterior piping and bolts at the Springdale Natural Gas Plant in Pennsylvania to ready the facility's environmental equipment for the summer operating period. The coal-fired Fort Martin Power Station in West Virginia completed installation of state-of-the-art environmental controls that help ensure the plant is meeting new mercury emissions limits.
FirstEnergy owns or controls a total generating capacity of nearly 17,000 megawatts across Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Virginia and Illinois. (One megawatt powers approximately 1,000 homes.) In addition to its nuclear, coal, and natural gas and oil facilities, the company also generates electricity at nine hydro and wind facilities. Collectively, these assets produced nearly 24.5 million megawatt hours of electricity from July through September 2015, the hottest months of last year.