John Boyer may be the second-generation owner of a small grocery chain in Central Pennsylvania, but there is nothing old-school about the way he runs his business.
He takes a fresh approach to keep his stores up-to-date and make sure his team exceeds customer expectations. In that spirit, John recently completed a total remodel of his location in Hazleton, one of 18 Boyer’s Food Markets in eastern Pennsylvania.
Among other efficient improvements, John upgraded the store’s outdated fluorescent lighting to efficient LEDs. This not only resulted in significant energy savings, but it ensured that the store would be properly lit to provide customers better visibility to the products on the shelves.
“Our resources are kind of limited – we need to pick and choose and use our capital as efficiently as we can. These kinds of projects where you can see the immediate payback to the bottom line, they’re winners,” Boyer noted. “When we can save money, put it in the bottom line, it helps us to upgrade the rest of our stores and bring them up to the speed that today’s customer demands.”
Monitoring tens of thousands of miles of power lines is important to keeping the lights on, and PPL Electric Utilities is increasing its use of drones to make that process more effective and efficient.
We recently began using drones to patrol the lower-voltage distribution lines that are typically found along neighborhood roads. It’s an expansion of our use of drones to help patrol transmission lines, the larger and taller high-voltage lines and poles that carry electricity over long distances.
Having certified pilots operate drones along our lines helps improve reliability because we can spot potential issues before they cause an outage. Drones can capture images of lines and related equipment, like transformers, and they’re capable of thermal imaging to spot hotspots that can signal problems. Drones also use a tool that measures the distance from trees to power lines. This helps us know when we should trim trees to potentially prevent an outage.
Before drones patrol a distribution line, customers along the line receive an automated phone call to let them know about the upcoming work. The drones focus only on lines and related equipment, not on surrounding areas. We only fly drones on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and never at night, or on weekends or holidays.
Drones give us a much closer and detailed look at power lines, a view not available to a PPL worker on the ground or even a helicopter. Plus, they improve safety by reducing the time that workers are in areas close to live power lines.
We know spotting a drone over a power line near your home might cause you to do a double take. We’re committed to using this equipment responsibly to improve reliability and increase efficiency, so we can keep your electric rates reasonable.
“This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.”
It’s a phrase we’ve all heard countless times from our radios or TVs. We’ve heard it so many times that it’s easy to stop paying attention.
The fact is that the Emergency Broadcast System — and other warnings like it — can provide life-saving information when disaster strikes.
September is National Preparedness Month. It’s the perfect time to learn about the various warning systems that will alert your family in the event of a natural or man-made crisis.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs)
WEAs are sent directly to your cell phone by state or local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the president of the United States.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The EAS is a national public warning system that requires all satellite, cable and radio broadcasters to provide the president with a capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency. EAS also may be used by state and local authorities.
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov. If you experience a power outage, don’t forget to report it online, call 1-800-342-5775 (1-800-DIAL-PPL) or text “Outage” to TXTPPL (898775).
Summer is winding down, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. For many of us, outdoor fun in the summertime means splashing around at a nearby pool or relaxing by a stream with a fishing pole in hand.
Water and electricity can be a deadly combination. At PPL Electric Utilities, we always think about safety first. Here are a few tips to stay safe from electrical risks as you enjoy the water this summer.
Swimming is a great way to cool down, but it carries dangers beyond drowning. Pools, hot tubs and spas can all be sources of electrical risks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), these hazards can come from several sources, including faulty underwater lighting; aging, uninspected (or at least not in years) electrical wiring; the use of sump pumps, power washers and vacuums that are not grounded; and, electrical appliances or extension cords that inadvertently end up in the water.
How can you keep your family safe? Ensuring that you have Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs) installed for all lighting, circuits and receptacles near water is a good first step. You also need to be aware of any sources of electricity near water. The CPSC has some good advice: “The best protection for families is inspection, detection and correction of electrical hazards in and around the swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.”
Fishing is another popular summertime activity that also carries some electrical risk. Because fishing rods and poles are made from metal, carbon fibers or similar conductive materials, contact with overhead power lines is a possibility.
If your fishing pole touches a power line, it can cause electric shocks, severe burns and even death. To stay safe, always “look before you hook.” Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get too close to overhead power lines when you’re fishing, or when you’re carrying your pole to or from a fishing spot.
Another safety tip is to make sure you unpack, set up and put away your equipment at the water’s edge, not in the water itself.
Ever see a line of silver towers in a rural field? Or, maybe steel poles lining the road? Those are transmission lines, and you likely don’t give them much thought as you pass by in your car.
But those transmission lines are crucial to most everything you do at home and work. They’re the backbone of our electric grid.
In fact, the transmission system is becoming even more important with the increased use of renewable energy, like solar and wind. Transmission lines are needed to get the new cleaner power from where it’s generated to the population centers that will be using it. A strong transmission grid also helps keep electricity reliable.
At PPL Electric Utilities, we take reliability seriously. Beginning in 2013, we used data to make focused upgrades and get ahead of potential future problems. We started building new lines and substations, replacing aging equipment and changing out wooden poles with stronger steel poles. We’re also adding more lightning protection and using new technology to help shorten outages.
The results for our customers are big.
From 2013-2019, we’ve reduced transmission outages by 79 percent and we’ve cut outages caused from lightning by 77 percent. Our transmission system is more resistant to most severe storms and we’re better equipped to handle potential cyber or physical attacks against our grid.
So, the next time you drive by a transmission line, take comfort knowing that we’re always working to provide you with sustainable, affordable and reliable electricity, now and into the future.