MORRISTOWN – JCP&L is completing inspections and ensuring its equipment is up for any challenges the winter weather may bring with it.
Electricity is in high demand during the winter months, and with heavy snow and winds having the potential to damage poles, wires and even substations, making sure they are prepared allows JCP&L crew make repairs more quickly and safely.
“Conducting winter maintenance procedures for our infrastructure, combined with fleet maintenance designed to prepare our vehicles for winter weather, make a difference when the weather turns cold,” Mark Jones, vice president of Operations, JCP&L, said. “Preparing now for potential severe weather conditions helps enhance the service we provide to our customers.”
While autumn lingers, crews inspect heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers, oil- and gas-filled circuit breakers. They winterize those structures and make sure those heating systems are working.
Substation electricians inspect batteries used to power relays that sense faults on the network and motors that automatically operate switches to isolate those problems, helping to prevent service interruptions or limit their size and scope. Crews use special thermal-imaging cameras to detect hot spots invisible to the naked eye on equipment prone to overheating and malfunctioning as customers crank up their heaters to combat the cold.
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 any air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present.
In addition, snow removal equipment is being checked. The plows are used to help crews gain access to substations, and to clear the work areas and sidewalks at company service garages and other facilities.
Helicopter patrols also are completing inspections of transmission lines located in the JCP&L area. The inspections are designed 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 may then be addressed.
In addition, tree trimming throughout the year helps meet the rigors of winter operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages. JCP&L tree contractors expect to complete tree trimming along more than 3,600 circuit miles of electric lines in 2017.
Employee safety also is a priority during the winter. JCP&L’s cold-weather operational procedures are reviewed with linemen, substation electricians, and meter readers in advance of any frigid conditions. JCP&L personnel often take extra measures to stay warm when working in extreme cold to restore power after an outage. Crews also could be delayed by treacherous driving conditions.
FirstEnergy’s utilities also have made it easier for customers to check the progress of service restoration efforts if they experience a power outage during severe winter weather. The company’s 24/7 Power Center outage maps now display the status of crews restoring service after a power outage. With this enhancement, FirstEnergy utility customers can see when crews have been dispatched, when they are working on a repair, and when additional crews or equipment are needed to complete restoration work. This information also is provided through the companies’ web-based outage information, and text messaging and alert services.