First Energy using helicopters to prepare for winter storms

Local News

(WKBN)- Every four years First Energy does a survey of their equipment that provides us power to our homes.

The easiest way to do this is with helicopters.

First Energy has nearly 800 miles of transmission lines. The higher up view allows crews to see things like overgrown trees, broken poles, and birds nesting in the equipment. Using aerial inspection helps them identify the problems much faster than on foot.

“That allowed our crews to get out there and make those repairs before they became a problem and you know caused service interruptions for our customers,” said Lauren Siburkis of First Energy.

The other technology First Energy uses is infrared lights. It detects problems invisible to the naked eye.
Using the Infrared technology finds “hot spots” that indicate where those repairs are before they are a problem.

First Energy was utilizing the helicopters to get an aerial view of their transmission lines. It is part of their routine maintenance.

They were visually checking on overgrown trees, broken poles, and other environmental factors that could disrupt service. But also, they utilized infrared technology to detect problems that we can’t see.
These hot spots are found in the early stages of a problem.

But what you might not realize is that they weren’t always looking at our everyday neighborhood power lines. They were focused on the transmission lines.

“It’s the first line in defense in preventing outages because without a transmission line, operationally you are not going to get any power into the substation which serves the lines in your neighborhood,” Siburkis said.

The help of this maintenance and the automated technology they use helped keep power in most homes this last round of storms.

If power does go out, First Energy has added new and updated equipment to make sure that if power does go out, it isn’t for long.

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