Preparing Equipment for Colder Weather Helps Enhance System Reliability
MORRISTOWN, NJ – Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is preparing for the winter season by conducting inspections and equipment maintenance on weather-sensitive equipment across its service area. These efforts are expected to enhance system resiliency and service reliability for customers throughout JCP&L’s service footprint.
Winter’s cold temperatures can increase demand for electricity, and heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations, requiring crews to make repairs in difficult conditions. Completing inspections and equipment maintenance now can help enhance system resiliency to keep power flowing to customers when the snow begins to fall.
“Our winter maintenance protocols help ensure that our system will be ready to perform once the cold weather returns and inclement weather conditions follow,” said Alex Patton, vice president of Operations, JCP&L. “These proactive measures in advance of any severe weather conditions help keep the lights on for our customers and enhance overall service reliability.”
The work includes inspecting heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers and oil and gas-filled circuit breakers. Substation buildings that house remote-controlled relay equipment will be winterized and the heating systems will be checked.
Substation electricians also inspect batteries used to power relays that sense faults on the network and motors that automatically operate switches to isolate problems, helping to prevent or reduce service interruptions.
Company bucket trucks and other vehicles also are being inspected to help ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present. In addition, snow removal equipment is being checked.
Helicopter patrols have been inspecting transmission lines located in the JCP&L service area to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, failed insulators and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspection can then be addressed.
JCP&L’s tree contractors have completed trimming work along 2,950 circuit miles of electric lines to date this year, and they are on track to complete an additional 450 miles of tree trimming by the end of December.
In addition to preparing equipment and vehicles for winter, managers review cold-weather safety procedures with field employees, including how to traverse slippery conditions to avoid slips and falls. They are also reminded to hydrate and take frequent breaks in warm trucks to avoid frostbite and maintain sharp mental focus. Particular emphasis is placed on safe winter driving to ensure crews arrive safely to the work site. Employees are also taking extra precautions to work safely throughout the coronavirus health emergency, including social distancing, alternating shifts and splitting into smaller work groups.