READING, PA — With winter weather on the horizon, Met-Ed, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is completing equipment inspections and maintenance to help keep power flowing to customers when they need it most to stay safe and comfortable.
“Our winter preparations focus on a wide range of activities with one common goal: ready our electric distribution and transmission systems to safely deliver electricity to our customers throughout the cold months ahead,” said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania Operations. “By taking proactive steps now to safeguard our power infrastructure and prepare our utility vehicles, we will be better positioned to respond to the challenges presented by winter weather.”
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 make proactive repairs on 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 must be in 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 1,400 miles of transmission lines located in the Met-Ed footprint. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms and other hardware problems invisible from the ground. Any 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. Met-Ed tree contractors have trimmed more than 2,550 miles of electric lines this year and are on track to complete about 3,200 total miles of trimming by the end of 2021.
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 to substations and that work areas and sidewalks at company facilities are clear and safe.
Earlier this year, Met-Ed 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 after damage caused by severe weather.
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