West Penn Power looks ahead to summer usage

West Penn Power is completing projects, inspections and equipment maintenance in its 24-county western and central Pennsylvania service territory “to enhance service reliability for customers.”

The work includes the use of helicopters to inspect lines from the air and thermovision cameras on the ground, according to a company news release.

“By identifying hot spots, maintenance and repairs can be conducted prior to a power outage occurring,” West Penn said.

Other work includes inspecting distribution circuits to ensure the equipment is operational and that the lines can handle demand for electricity increases during the summer, when cooling is at its peak.

“When the days get hot and the nights stay humid, our customers turn up their air conditioning to keep cool,” said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. “We proactively inspect and maintain our equipment to ensure system reliability to meet the increased electrical demand when the temperatures climb and customers depend on us to help them stay comfortable.”

Tree trimming is also underway to keep lines clear and prevent tree-related outages. About 3,500 miles of line are expected to be cleared in 2015.

In Centre County, crews also are finishing work “designed to help enhance the reliability of the electric system in time for the summer.”

Namely, this means installing equipment to maintain and increase voltage levels in a substation near State College. The project is designed to help accommodate future load growth in Centre County and will help enhance service reliability to about 64,000 West Penn Power customers in the area. The project is expected to be completed and operational by June 1.

A new FirstEnergy transmission substation near St. Marys in Elk County, also will impact Centre County consumers. The station is planned to support voltage on the regional 138,000-volt transmission system to improve service for more than 95,000 FirstEnergy utility customers, including West Penn Power customers in Elk, Centre and Potter counties, and Penelec customers in Clearfield, Jefferson, Forest, Warren, McKean and Potter counties. The substation is expected to be completed and operational by June 1.

West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in Pennsylvania.