Sunday morning was just like Friday and Saturday mornings for thousands of Butler County residents with no electric service — cold.
More than 16,000 West Penn Power customers in the county woke up with no power, but service was expected to be restored to most of those people by Sunday night.
“Our plan is to have the majority restored by 11 o’clock tonight,” West Penn spokesman Todd Meyers said Sunday. “The focus is on the work that brings the largest number of customers back on.”
However reports of falling power lines continued coming in Saturday and few came in Sunday morning.
“Last evening we were continuing to get new outages. That snow and ice never had a chance to melt off the trees,” Meyers said.
Slightly warmer temperatures Sunday were expected to help the crew of more than 500 linemen from the surrounding area turn the power back on.
The workers on Saturday focused on repairing large high-voltage lines that enter substations. Many of those lines fell during the ice and snow storm that struck Thursday.
“We had more than 20 lines that serve both residential and industrial substations fail. They are part of our 25,000-volt subtransmission network. The focus yesterday was to get larger source lines repaired and heat up substations. That work has gone well and has pretty much been competed,” Meyers said.
He said substations reduce the voltage delivered by the large lines and distributes power to customers through a smaller circuits, he said.
Damage assessors scout for damaged lines and utility poles and fallen trees and report their observations to linemen crews, he said.
“We have a large number of line crews from all places. Butler County has more than 500 linemen and support staff to help them. It’s a massive effort. There’s a huge force out there and mobilized to get the power back on. They’ll be working throughout the day.” Meyers said.
He said people whose power isn’t restored Sunday will have power Monday.
West Penn has received calls from people reporting that people who have responded to fallen lines seemed to be standing around not doing anything, he said.
Those people are damage assessors who report the damage to line crews and keep people away, Meyers said. Often times, a lineman responds and terminates the power going to that line. A crew comes later to repair the line, he said.
West Penn has been working with school districts to keep them informed about power outages and with municipalities to coordinate work on reopening closed roads, he said.
He commended the American Red Cross and municipalities that set up warming stations for people without heat.
Regardless of how cold it feels inside a house, residents should not attempt to use grills or other heating devices not designed for indoor use inside their homes. he said.
“Stay safe inside,” Meyers said.