West Penn connects new transformer at Upton during power outage

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

A planned outage affected about 1,900 West Penn Power customers for nearly eight hours Wednesday as a second transformer was connected at the Upton Substation.

The second transformer will allow for residential and business growth in the areas of Antrim, Montgomery and Peters townships and a portion of the Borough of Greencastle served by the substation at the corner of Route 16 and Welsh Run Road.

The one transformer at the substation was near capacity, and it was time to upgrade the infrastructure, said Todd Meyers, a West Penn spokesman.

There are now two transformers operating at West Penn Power's Upton Substation. The second transformer was hooked up during a planned power outage Wednesday, Jan. 26.

The transformer was on the edge of "good operating practices," especially on really hot or cold days when demand is high for electricity.

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Having two transformers also means if there is a problem with one, the network can be temporarily reconfigured to use the other and keep more customers in service.

The transformer was mounted on concrete pad and as much work as possible was done in advance to limit the duration of the outage, Meyers said, noting the work scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. was actually finished by 3:45 p.m.

More than 30 linemen and substation electricians were on hand, with almost as many trucks, during the hookup.

"That's a lot of people for a utility," Meyers said.

The work is now complete and the transformer is in service.

West Penn Power's Upton Substation is located at the corner of Route 16 and Welsh Run Road.

Were you in the dark about the outage?

"There's no good time for a planned power outage," Meyers said, noting for example, that it's hot in the summer, cold in the winter and there's church on Sunday.

West Penn reaches out to all customers via robo-calls to let them know the electricity is going to be off, but that doesn't mean it actually reaches them.

Many people have given up the landlines they used when their service was set up, but those numbers are still on file.

Automated phones at businesses also are problematic.

"Our computers don't know how to talk to business computers," Meyers said.

He recommend customers who only have cell phones and businesses that use automated systems sign up for text messages. West Penn Power is a FirstEnergy company and this can be done at www.firstenergycorp.com.