West Penn Power Completes Inspections and Maintenance to Enhance Electric Service Reliability Through Winter Season
GREENSBURG, Pa., Nov. 29, 2022 -- With winter weather right around the corner, West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is completing equipment inspections and maintenance to help keep power flowing to customers to keep them safe and comfortable during the chilly months ahead.
"Our winter preparations focus on readying our electric distribution and transmission systems to safely deliver electricity to our customers when they need it most to stay warm," said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania Operations. "By working proactively to safeguard our power infrastructure and prepare our utility vehicles and personnel, we will be better positioned to respond to the challenges presented by freezing temperatures, windstorms and snowstorms."
Substation electricians inspect critical components using "thermovision" cameras, which capture infrared images of equipment to detect potential problems that are not visible during regular visual inspections. The infrared images show heat on a color scale, with brighter colors or "hot spots" indicating loose connections, corrosion or other problems that require repairs. Utility workers can then proactively repair substation equipment to help prevent power outages as customers crank up their heaters to combat the cold.
Some larger substations have buildings that house remote-controlled equipment that require a climate-controlled environment to function properly. Crews winterize those control buildings and ensure their heating systems are ready for the season.
Helicopter inspections are being completed on approximately 1,700 miles of transmission lines located in the West Penn Power footprint. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms and other hardware problems invisible from the ground. Potential reliability issues identified during the inspection may then 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 heavy, wet snow, high winds and ice. West Penn Power tree contractors have trimmed about 4,400 miles of electric lines this year and are on track to complete more than 5,000 total miles of trimming by the end of 2022.
Additionally, bucket trucks and other vehicles are inspected to ensure they are safe and able to function in freezing temperatures. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and air brakes, which can freeze up if moisture is present. Snow removal equipment is also checked to ensure that crews are able to access substations and that work areas and sidewalks at company facilities are clear and safe.
Earlier this year, West Penn Power conducted its annual tabletop storm drill as another way to help ensure reliable electric service for customers. The drill is designed to prepare employees assigned to storm restoration duties and review restoration processes and storm-management tools critical to safely and quickly getting the lights back on after damage caused by severe weather.
Customers can review tips to prepare in advance of severe weather, and view restoration updates if storms do cause power outages, by visiting FirstEnergy's 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
With the winter storm season also comes frigid temperatures and rising energy costs. Customers can take steps to keep their homes comfortable while managing their electricity bill this cold season. The following tips can help customers use electricity wisely during this period of high demand:
- Set thermostats as low as comfort will allow. Every degree a customer can decrease the temperature in their home will result in using about 3 percent less energy during the winter.
- Seal any leaks around windows and door frames with caulk or weather stripping to prevent cold air from sneaking into your home.
- Close the fireplace damper when it is not in use to keep cold air out.
- Close the drapes at night. During the day, only open those that receive direct sunlight.
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat to keep temperatures lower when no one is home and to increase the temperature before arrival back home.
- Check furnace fan filters. Clogged filters waste energy and money by forcing a heating system to work harder than necessary.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. If you have less than six inches of insulation, you'll benefit by adding more.
- Payment arrangements and assistance programs are available for customers who need help with their electric bills. For more information, visit www.firstenergycorp.com/billassist.
West Penn Power serves approximately 725,000 customers in 24 counties within central and southwestern Pennsylvania. Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPennPower.
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 24,500 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
Editor's Note: Photos of FirstEnergy's utilities' winter inspection and maintenance program 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: Todd Meyers, (724) 838-6650; Investor Contact: Irene Prezelj, (330) 384-3859