Penn Power Completes Proactive Work to Keep Electricity Flowing Safely and Reliably Through Summer Season

3 mins read

Company offers tips for customers to manage rising temperatures and energy costs

NEW CASTLE, Pa., June 20, 2022 — Penn Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) electric company, 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 FirstEnergy 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. “This year alone, FirstEnergy plans to invest 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.”

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.

Penn Power is also nearing completion on the construction of a new distribution substation in Cranberry, Butler County, to support the energy demands of the area’s rapidly growing population and help prevent lengthy service disruptions during severe weather. The work includes installation of automated equipment and technology within the new substation and along power lines serving more than 20,000 customers in parts of Cranberry, Mars, Evans City, Jackson Township and nearby areas. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of the summer.

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.

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.

Beyond the infrastructure work, Penn Power and FirstEnergy employees have participated in readiness exercises and drills throughout the year to test the company’s restoration process used to address 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.

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 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 percent 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.

Summer is also a time when contractors and homeowners spend more time outdoors completing projects. Important outdoor electrical safety tips are available at www.firstenergycorp.com/publicsafety

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.

SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.