Penn Power work will help prevent or minimize outages for more than 15,000 customers
New Castle, PA /PRNewswire/ - FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) subsidiary Penn Power has completed an expansion of its smart grid in Mercer County to reinforce the local power system and help prevent lengthy service disruptions, especially during severe weather. Work includes installation of new, automated equipment and technology in distribution substations and along neighborhood power lines serving more than 15,000 customers in Sharon, Sharpsville, Hermitage, Transfer, Greenville, West Middlesex and nearby areas.
The work is part of Penn Power's second phase Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP II), approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to help enhance electric service for customers. The company has experienced a 74% decrease in customer minutes of interruption related to outages since the installation of smart grid technology along neighborhood power lines under LTIIP.
Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania operations: "Penn Power has made significant investments in smart grid technologies in recent years, helping enhance our reliability performance and piloting new devices that our sister utilities have since begun to implement successfully within their own service areas. The completion of this work ahead of winter is a win-win because it strengthens our electric system and keeps the lights on for customers when they depend on it the most to stay warm and comfortable."
Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of more than a dozen new automated reclosing devices in the substations and along neighborhood power lines that will help limit the frequency, duration and scope of service interruptions. A video of utility personnel explaining and installing automated devices can be found on YouTube.
These electrical devices:
- Work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs, with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a substation or power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers.
- Are safer and more efficient because they often allow utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers instead of sending a crew to investigate.
- Isolate the outage to that area and limit the total number of affected customers if the device senses a more serious issue, like a fallen tree on electrical equipment.
- Quickly pinpoint the location of the fault and help utility personnel better understand the cause of the outage to help speed restoration.
Automated voltage regulators were also installed to help ensure safe, constant voltage levels along power lines on extremely cold or hot days that create high demand for electricity. In addition to preventing voltage issues for customers, the devices could potentially help provide energy savings by evenly distributing electricity to allow all customers served by a single power line to receive the same flow of safe, reliable power.
Lastly, Penn Power workers installed nearly 100 new poles designed to withstand severe winter elements like high winds, ice and heavy, wet snow.
This work builds upon system upgrades that were completed in recent years across Penn Power's service area in Mercer County, including the installation of more than 200 automated reclosing devices in rural, tree-filled communities, and the addition of interior fencing in four substations to help deter climbing animals and protect against electrical equipment interference that can cause power outages.
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 and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.