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FirstEnergy Takes Proactive Steps to Prepare Transmission System for Summer
Work includes aerial inspections and tree trimming along high-voltage power lines.
To help ensure reliable power for customers this summer, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and its transmission subsidiaries have completed annual inspections and maintenance of their high-voltage power lines and equipment in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.
“The transmission system delivers power from generation sources to local substations and lines serving homes and businesses, acting as the interstate highway system of the electric grid,” said Carl Bridenbaugh, vice president of transmission at FirstEnergy. “Coupled with similar work at the local utility level, the preparations help ensure power is reliable as customer demand rises along with the summer heat.”
Helicopter patrols have been completed along nearly 18,000 miles of high-voltage lines across FirstEnergy’s service territory, with personnel examining the wires, equipment and structures for potential maintenance issues. The helicopters fly at speeds of approximately 25 to 35 miles per hour while an onboard observer looks for any conditions that may require repair, sometimes hovering along the lines to get a closer look. The aerial patrols, which are completed each year, started in January and wrapped up in mid-May.
The company also conducted inspections on more than 4,700 miles of its transmission lines in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey using special ultraviolet and infrared (UV/IR) camera
equipment mounted on the bottom of the helicopters. An onboard thermographer uses the camera to view the electrical equipment through infrared and ultraviolet spectrums. The thermal images can identify equipment issues such as loose connections, corrosion and load imbalances, while ultraviolet technology detects electrical discharge along a power line caused by issues such as rusted hardware and cracked insulators.
Any issues identified during the inspections are addressed to prevent service disruptions and costly repairs down the road. FirstEnergy conducts UV/IR inspections on a four-year cycle, meaning it will inspect all transmission lines over a four-year period.
In addition to equipment inspections and maintenance, transmission vegetation management crews have been trimming trees along nearly 1,280 of the approximately 3,300 miles of high-voltage lines planned this year as part of its $80 million transmission vegetation management program. This work is crucial to protecting the electric grid from tree-related outages during severe weather.
Beyond the infrastructure work, FirstEnergy personnel performed an analysis of projected peak power flows to help ensure the grid is prepared for increased electricity demand this summer.
The summer preparation work builds on extensive investments into the transmission system through Energizing the Future, FirstEnergy’s multi-year modernization initiative designed to upgrade FirstEnergy's transmission system with advanced equipment and technologies that will reinforce the power grid and help reduce the frequency and duration of customer outages. Since 2014, FirstEnergy has upgraded or replaced existing power lines, incorporated smart technology into the grid and upgraded dozens of substations with new equipment and enhanced security features. Through 2022, FirstEnergy has invested more than $10 billion in the Energizing the Future initiative.
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 and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
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