The Illuminating Company Completes Inspections and Maintenance to Help Enhance Customer Service Reliability Through Winter Season
BRECKSVILLE, Ohio, Nov. 12, 2020 -- With the cold-weather months expected to produce higher electric usage, The Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is completing inspections and equipment maintenance expected to enhance service reliability for customers who rely on power to stay warm, safe and comfortable.
"Completing inspections and equipment maintenance now can help enhance system resiliency to keep power flowing to customers when severe winter weather strikes," said Mark Jones, regional president of The Illuminating Company. "Many customers are spending more time at home during the current pandemic, and our goal is to deliver the safe and reliable power they rely on."
Helicopter patrols have completed inspections on nearly 2,500 miles of FirstEnergy transmission lines located across The Illuminating Company's service territory this year. 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 inspections can be addressed.
Tree trimming throughout the year also helps meet the rigors of winter operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages caused by the weight of ice and heavy, wet snow on branches. The Illuminating Company's tree contractors have completed trimming work along 1,600 circuit miles of electric lines to date this year, and they are on track to complete an additional 300 miles of tree trimming by the end of December.
On the ground, proactive equipment inspections include using "thermovision" cameras to capture infrared images of electrical equipment that can 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.
Other utility work being done by The Illuminating Company personnel includes inspecting distribution circuits, such as 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 winter, typically due to heating.
Company bucket trucks and other vehicles also are being inspected to help ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present. Snow removal equipment is also being checked.
The Illuminating Company's employees also participated in virtual readiness exercises and drills throughout the year to test the company's restoration process used to repair winter 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.
The Illuminating Company serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Follow The Illuminating Company on Twitter @IlluminatingCo and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IlluminatingCo.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to 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 24,500 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 workers conducting inspections to enhance service reliability for The Illuminating Company's customers 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: Lauren Siburkis, (330) 203-8850