Penn Power Completes Proactive Work to Help Enhance Service Reliability and Safety Through Summer Season
Company offers tips for customers to manage rising temperatures and energy costs
NEW CASTLE, Pa., June 8, 2023 -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) subsidiary Penn Power recently completed proactive equipment inspections and maintenance to reinforce the electric system against extreme heat and severe weather this summer. The work builds upon vast equipment and technology upgrades Penn Power has made to its electric grid in western Pennsylvania over recent years to help prevent power outages and reduce many interruptions to just a brief or momentary outage.
"We proactively inspect, maintain and upgrade our equipment to minimize the length and impact of service interruptions that are often caused by events out of our control, like severe weather," said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania operations. "In the past year alone, FirstEnergy invested more than $20 million in new automated technology and equipment upgrades across the Penn Power service area to help keep power flowing to our customers in all types of weather conditions."
Since the fall, Penn Power personnel have installed more than 30 new automated reclosing devices in the substations and along power lines in its service area to help limit the frequency, duration and scope of service interruptions.
These electrical devices work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs, with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a substation or power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers. This technology is safer and more efficient because it often allows utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers in lieu of sending a crew to investigate.
If the device senses a more serious issue, like a fallen tree on electrical equipment, it will isolate the outage to that area and limit the total number of affected customers. The device's smart technology will quickly pinpoint the location of the fault and help utility personnel better understand the cause of the outage to help speed restoration.
More than a dozen automated voltage regulators were also installed to help ensure safe, constant voltage levels along power lines on extremely hot or cold days that create high demand for electricity. In addition to preventing voltage issues for customers, the devices could potentially help provide energy savings by evenly distributing electricity to allow all customers served by a single power line to receive the same flow of safe, reliable power.
Other work being completed by Penn Power personnel includes inspecting electrical equipment, like transformers, located along neighborhood power lines and within substations to ensure the infrastructure is ready to perform reliably when demand for electricity increases during the summer, typically due to air conditioning usage.
Proactive equipment inspections include using thermovision cameras to capture infrared images of electrical equipment, helping detect potential problems within substations and on power lines that cannot be observed during regular visual inspections. The infrared technology shows heat on a color scale, with brighter colors or "hot spots" indicating areas that could need repairs. These images can identify equipment issues such as loose connections, corrosion and load imbalances, and utility workers are able to make repairs to prevent potential power outages in the future.
In addition, helicopter patrols have completed inspections of nearly 750 miles of high-voltage power lines owned by American Transmission Systems, Inc., a FirstEnergy transmission subsidiary, located in the Penn Power service area. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspections are addressed as quickly as possible.
With the summer storm season also comes higher-than-usual temperatures and rising energy costs. Customers can take steps to beat the heat while also managing their electricity bill this summer. The following tips can help customers use electricity wisely during this period of high demand:
- Set thermostats as high as comfort will allow. Every degree a customer can increase the temperature in their home will result in using about 3% less energy during the summer.
- Use fans – moving air cools skin faster, resulting in greater comfort on hot days.
- During sunny weather, close drapes or blinds on windows facing the sun to prevent direct radiant heating from impacting interior temperatures.
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat to keep temperatures higher when no one is home and to reduce the temperature before arrival back home.
- Seal any leaks with caulk or weather stripping to prevent hot air from sneaking into your home.
- Check air conditioner and furnace fan filters. Clogged filters waste energy and money by forcing HVAC systems to work harder than necessary.
- Avoid using heat-producing appliances during the hottest hours of the day. The less heat produced at home, the less work the air conditioner must do.
- Payment arrangements and assistance programs are available for customers who need help with their electric bills. For more information, visit www.firstenergycorp.com/billassist.
Penn Power serves more than 160,000 customers in all or parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Lawrence and Mercer counties in western Pennsylvania. Follow Penn Power on Twitter @Penn_Power, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennPower, and online at www.pennpower.com.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp.
Editor's Note: Photos of Penn Power workers completing equipment upgrades and inspections are available for download on Flickr. A video of utility personnel conducting a thermovision inspection and explaining the work can be found on the company's YouTube channel.
CONTACT: News Media Contact: Lauren Siburkis, (330) 203-8850; Investor Contact: Irene Prezelj, (330) 384-3859