The company says It’s been inspecting its equipment, and making necessary repairs, replacing parts.
Williamsport, Md (KM) Summer is known for hot, humid weather, and more people using air conditioners. Potomac Edison says it has been getting ready for the sultry temperatures. Spokesman Todd Meyers says the utility has been inspecting 1400 miles of lines so they can handle the increasing use of air conditioners.
“We’ll have helicopters flying very slowly, even hovering over not just the big transmission lines, but some of the smaller lines,” he says. “And what they’re doing is looking for broken cross arms, doing visual inspections on hardware, different things that are up in the air that you may not see from the ground.”
In addition to that, Meyers says personnel have been using infrared thermo-vision cameras to look inside of electric substations. “They notice a white hot display that something is heating right at that time of year without much electricity rolling through there. They know that could be a weak spot or a trouble spot, and they’ll try to make a repair on that equipment, replace that part,” he says.
In addition, Potomac Edison is trimming trees. “That’s help us with reliability, especially with the summer thunderstorms, trying to keep trees away from the lines,” says Meyers.
Along with this routine maintenance and repair, Meyers says there are two projects in Frederick County which will help improve reliability. One is the replacement of aging underground distribution cables in downtown Frederick. “We’re trying to replace some of the line that has been in conduit for 30-plus years, and putting a new more modern conductor down there which is better sealed from the elements,” he says. That new project is expected to serve about 1600 customers in the downtown Frederick area.
The second project is the construction of a new distribution substation and five miles of new distribution lines in the Foxville area. Meyers says this will improve reliability for about 1200 customers in the Myersville and Wolfsville areas. “It’s very rugged, and very mountainous, and there’s a lot of trees there. And over the years, about 1200 customers that are part of this line have experienced more outages than we feel is acceptable,” he says.
Construction began on this project in January. Potomac Edison says the line work is expected to be completed by June. The substation is scheduled to be finished later this year. The cost of this project is $4-million.
For customers who want to keep cool and save money during the hot summer months, Meyers suggests setting the thermostat at a temperature high enough for your own comfort, such as 79-degrees rather than 78-degrees. “Turning up a degree can save you three-percent. Turning it up two-degrees can save you six-percent, so on and so forth. So thermostat control is important,” he says.
In addition, Meyers says use LED and CFL light bulbs because they are more energy efficient, and do not emit as much heat as regular light bulbs.
“Changing you filter on your air conditioning units, especially your interior HVAC filters. That can help the airflow,” he says. “Making sure if you have a garage that integrated with the house, you keep those garage doors down in the daytime so you don’t let all that hot air rush in.”
Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of First Energy Corp., serves 265,000 customers in seven Maryland counties, and 140,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
By Kevin McManus