NEW JERSEY – Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has completed inspections and equipment maintenance across its 3,200-square-mile service area to enhance service reliability for customers ahead of the cold winter months.
Electricity demand increases as temperatures drop, and winter storms have the potential to damage poles, wires and substation equipment. By completing preventative maintenance before winter weather arrives, electric equipment is better prepared to keep power flowing, allowing customers to remain safe and comfortable. This also reduces the potential need for difficult in-field repairs, which are made even more challenging in cold, snowy conditions.
“These proactive measures help ensure the safe, reliable electric service that is necessary to keep our customers warm and comfortable, and also increases the safety of our team members during the winter months,” said James Fakult, president of New Jersey operations for FirstEnergy who oversees JCP&L. “We may not know what Mother Nature has in store for us this year, but our equipment and vehicles are prepared for the inclement weather that may come our way.”
Preparations include winterizing substation buildings that house remote-controlled equipment and tuning up heating equipment for substation components to ensure cold weather doesn’t lead to equipment malfunctions. Substation electricians also inspect batteries used to power devices that sense abnormal conditions in the system and motors that operate switches to isolate those problems, helping to prevent or minimize service interruptions.
Power lines throughout the JCP&L service area are inspected by crews using high-tech thermal imaging cameras to look for hardware problems and potential “hotspots,” or weakened areas in the lines. Helicopter inspections are completed along transmission lines in areas that are not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspections are addressed to help prevent disruptions to electric service.
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 2,548 miles of electric lines to date this year, and they are on track to complete an additional 530 miles of tree trimming by the end of December.
Additionally, company bucket trucks and other vehicles are serviced 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 chains are inspected and readied for installation, and snow removal equipment is checked to help ensure utility personnel can safely access work sites and company facilities.
With safety being a core value at FirstEnergy, managers also use this time to review cold-weather safety procedures with field employees, including how to traverse slippery conditions to avoid slips and falls, and reviewing winter driving trips to 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.
With the winter storm season also comes frigid temperatures and rising energy costs. Customers can take steps to keep their homes comfortable while managing their electricity bill this cold season.
The following tips can help customers use electricity wisely during this period of high demand:
- Set thermostats as low as comfort will allow. Every degree a customer can decrease the temperature in their home will result in using about 3 percent less energy during the winter.
- Seal any leaks around windows and door frames with caulk or weather stripping to prevent cold air from sneaking into your home.
- Close the fireplace damper when it is not in use to keep cold air out.
- Close the drapes at night. During the day, only open those that receive direct sunlight.
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat to keep temperatures lower when no one is home and to increase the temperature before arrival back home.
- Check furnace fan filters. Clogged filters waste energy and money by forcing a heating system to work harder than necessary.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. If you have less than six inches of insulation, you’ll benefit by adding more.
- Payment arrangements and assistance programs are available for customers who need help with their electric bills. For more information, visit www.firstenergycorp.com/billassist.
- More energy efficiency tips as well as no-fee energy efficiency kits, home energy analyzers and the details of JCP&L’s other regulated energy efficiency programs can be found at www.energysavenj.com.