JCP&L has completed proactive work to prepare the electric grid in its 3,200-square-mile service area to keep customers’ power flowing through the cold winter months.
The work, which includes preventive maintenance and inspections of key equipment, vehicles and the environment surrounding the lines, ensures that the system is ready for the increased demand brought on by colder temperatures and heavy snow, ice and winds that can damage poles, wires and substation equipment during winter storms.
Jim Fakult, president, JCP&L: “Our goal is keeping our customers safe, warm and comfortable this winter by providing the reliable electric service they need to meet this season’s demands. We don’t know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve in the coming months, but we’re preparing our system and employees for whatever may come our way.”
Seasonal preparations included:
- Winterizing substation buildings that house remote-controlled equipment.
- Tuning up heating equipment for substation components to ensure cold weather doesn’t lead to equipment malfunctions.
- Inspecting batteries used to power electrical devices that can sense abnormal conditions in the system as well as the motors that operate switches to isolate those problems.
- Conducting equipment inspections using high-tech thermal imaging cameras to look for hardware problems and potential “hotspots,” or weakened areas in the lines.
- Inspecting transmission lines using a helicopter in areas not visible from the ground.
- Servicing company bucket trucks and other vehicles to help ensure safe operations during the winter season, with special emphasis placed on the condition of tires and air braking systems, which can freeze up if moisture is present.
- Inspecting snow chains and snow removal equipment to ensure safe access to work sites.
Tree trimming throughout the year also helps reinforce the power system ahead of the winter season by maintaining proper clearances around electrical equipment and helping to protect against tree-related outages caused by ice and heavy, wet snow on branches. JCP&L’s tree contractors have completed trimming work along 2,792 miles of electric lines to date this year, and they are on track to complete an additional 629 miles of tree trimming by the end of December.
Beyond infrastructure maintenance, JCP&L employees also participated in readiness exercises and drills throughout the year to test the company’s restoration process used to address winter storm-related power outages. With a core focus on safety, company leadership also reviews cold-weather safety procedures with field employees, including tips to traverse slippery conditions and help ensure safe arrival at work sites. Crews are also reminded to hydrate and take frequent breaks in warm trucks to avoid frostbite and maintain sharp mental focus.