We’re committed to delivering an effortless customer experience, whether we chat on social media, speak over the phone, or interact with you on our website. We’re also committed to continuous learning and improvement. So, when we received customer feedback regarding accessibility issues with our website, we took action.
Here’s what we learned:
A legally blind customer made us aware that she was having difficulty using her screen reader to pay her bill online.
Another customer with red and green colorblindness was having difficulty interpreting certain message banners on our website.
Here’s what we’re doing about it:
Updating our online bill pay section to better support those who are visually impaired.
To help overcome the color hurdle, we’re testing and implementing designs that use larger icons, which are more noticeable and legible for users with colorblindness.
Taking it a step further:
We’ll continue checking-in with customers who have disabilities and design our website with accessibility in mind.
We’re establishing panels of customers who can provide us guidance and insight on accessibility issues as we’re making routine improvements to the website.
We’re continuously learning from customers who access our website differently, so we can make the web experience inclusive for all.
We’re using technological innovation and data to reduce costs, improve safety, and keep the lights on for our customers.
This past winter we piloted dynamic line rating (DLR)technology on two of our transmission lines. When integrated successfully into operations, this technology has the potential to delay costly investments.
We’re excited to report that our pilot was successful. Thanks to the accuracy reported by our DLR sensors,we didn’t need to build new lines or upgrade the transmission line to avoid congestion.
The use of DLR sensors on our transmission lines saved millions of dollars that can be invested into preparing for the grid of the future. It also prevents us fromhaving to do construction work.
Our company is one of the first to successfully integrate this technology into operations.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
The energy grid moves electricity like the roadway system moves vehicles. The grid has two main components. The transmission system (#2) acts like the highway, moving energy over long distances and across state lines. The distribution system (#4) acts like local roadways, delivering energy directly to homes and businesses.
Like traffic on the highway, the grid becomes congested when the transmission system can no longer deliver the electricity without exceeding certain limits. When this happens, just like roads need to be expanded or added, transmission owners, like us, must upgrade or build new electrical lines.
DLR sensors give real-time information on conditions that affect transmission line performance – like wind speed and line temperature. This information is used to increase the amount of electricitydelivered over existing lines and decrease congestion.
Traditionally, static line ratings are taken when the lines are initially built, and the ratings are used indefinitely to make investment decisions. So, even though the environmental factors are continually changing, the rating assumes the most conservative factors are at play. When the grid becomes congested, we may be unable to increase the amount of electricity because the initial static line rating assumes we cannot. This means we must invest in upgrading or adding transmission lines.
“The information we are collecting is helping us better balance strong resiliency while holding down costs,” said Dave Quier, vice president of Transmission and Substation. “Not having tomake upgrades to Harwood-Susquehanna saves money, avoids construction work and gives our team more flexibility to invest money where customers will see bigger reliability results.”
This is just another example of how we’re using technology, innovation and data to improve safety, reduce cost, and keep the lights on for you.
Drones are more than just an innovative way to patrol and review electric delivery lines. They can be an innovative tool to help string them, too.
At least twice in recent weeks, our employees have turned to the unmanned aerial vehicles as a way to help with challenging line restoration work.
During recovery from the March 2 nor’easter, crews used a drone to help with a difficult job in the Shohola, Pike County, area. Crews had to get a line through a 1,200-foot section of ravine, with a downed tree blocking the right of way.
Regional Design Supervisor Bill Farber remembered hearing that Regional Design Supervisor Phil Brant had used a drone to help string lines during restoration work in Puerto Rico. A drone was used there on three separate occasions to fly a pulling string across inaccessible areas ranging from 150 to 500 feet across. Crews were then able to use the string flown in by the drone to pull line across the inaccessible areas.
Just as he did in Puerto Rico, Brant used a drone to fly a piece of line across the 1,200-foot ravine, proving PPL can achieve flights of greater length with continued success.
While other methods can be used to pull string through inaccessible areas, drones offer a more controlled, precise and safe way to do so.
“Using drones for this purpose can save the company money and help us get lines rebuilt more quickly,” Farber said.
A drone also proved to be the right solution to a different weather-related challenge in the Harrisburg region.
In the Newport area, a single-phase line crosses Sherman Creek, which has an island in the middle. During the week of March 12, a tree on the island fell and took down the line.
The creek was too swollen for crews to wade across. So Field Supervisor Andy Breault reached out to Senior Engineer Tom Grosz, asking whether the drone used at the Lancaster Service Center might be usable.
The method was the same: Support Engineer Eric Resch attached a rope to the drone and flew it across the creek. The crew then used the rope to pull a new line across the creek. The drone flight took just 10 minutes for setup and five minutes to fly, Resch said.
“I flew the drone past the crew, and the rope dropped off the drone and pretty well landed right in their hands,” he said.
Of course, power line inspections continue to be the primary use for drones. But the aerial vehicles also are proving their worth in other ways.