Penn Power, an electric power company of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) in western Pennsylvania, continues to expand its smart grid in Mercer and Crawford counties to strengthen local power systems and prevent protracted service interruptions, especially during severe weather. The work includes installing new, automated equipment and technology at substations and along neighborhood power lines serving more than 20,000 customers in Sharon, Sharpsville, Hermitage, Transfer, Greenville, West Middlesex, Hartstown, Conneaut and nearby areas.
The work, which is expected to be completed in December, is part of Penn Power’s second phase Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP II) approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to improve power delivery to customers. The company’s investments to improve the local power grid have successfully reduced the number and duration of outages experienced by customers by up to 20% in areas where work has been completed.
“Penn Power has made significant investments in smart grid technologies over the past several years to improve our reliability performance and test new equipment that our sister utilities have since successfully implemented in their own utility areas,” said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy’s operations in Pennsylvania. “We remain committed to modernizing the technology and equipment used to provide our customers with a safe and reliable power service.”
Hundreds of homes and businesses in the region will benefit from the installation of nearly 30 new automatic reclosing devices at substations and along neighborhood power lines, which will help limit the frequency, duration and magnitude of service interruptions. These electrical devices work like a circuit breaker in a home, shutting off power when problems arise, with the added benefit of allowing a substation or power line to automatically turn back on within seconds of certain types of outages to ensure power is safely maintained letting customers flow. This technology is safer and more efficient as it often allows care workers to automatically restore service to customers instead of sending a team to investigate.
If the device detects a more serious problem, e.g. For example, if a fallen tree hits electrical equipment, it isolates the outage to that area and limits the total number of customers affected. The intelligent technology will quickly pinpoint the location of the failure and help utility staff better understand the cause of the failure to speed up recovery.
Automated voltage regulators are also installed to ensure safe, constant voltage levels along power lines on extremely cold or hot days that cause high power demands. In addition to avoiding voltage issues for customers, the devices could potentially help save energy by evenly distributing power so that all customers served by a single power line receive the same safe, reliable flow of electricity.
Eventually, additional power lines will be built to provide more flexibility in recovering from outages due to events such as storms and vehicle accidents. The new power lines will help reduce the length and overall number of customers affected by an outage by switching to a backup line for faster service restoration.
This work builds on system upgrades completed in Penn Power’s Mercer and Crawford Counties service area in recent years, including the installation of more than 200 automatic reclosing devices in rural, tree-lined communities and the addition of interior fences at four substations to deter climbing animals and to protect against interference from electrical devices that can cause power outages.
Penn Power serves more than 160,000 customers in all or part of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Lawrence and Mercer counties in western Pennsylvania.
FirstEnergy is committed to integrity, security, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 power distribution companies make up one of the nation’s largest investor-owned power grids, 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 connecting the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com
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