West Penn Power officials have announced that 21 circuits in Butler County will be fitted with new fuses in the next five years that are meant to reduce the number of customers affected when a service interruption occurs.
Tthe fuses automatically open when a system irregularity is detected, such as a tree down on power lines, a line affected when a vehicle strikes a utility pole, or an animal making contact with a line.
The fuse protects electrical equipment while limiting the scope of an outage to a smaller section of the distribution line, meaning fewer customers would be affected.
West Penn Power crews and contractors are expected to install between 6,000 and 7,500 new fuses on distribution poles and wires throughout its service area.
Fuses also will be installed this year on circuits in Allegheny, Armstrong, Centre, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
About $21 million of West Penn Power's $147 million Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan is expected to be spent on the fuses.
“Our eventual goal is to install enough new fuses to separate distribution lines into smaller blocks of 30 to 35 customers,” said John Rea, West Penn Power regional president.
The infrastructure improvement plan is meant to ensure electric service reliability for the company's 725,000 customers.
West Penn Power, which provides service to customers within 10,400 square miles of central and southwestern Pennsylvania, is a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.