FirstEnergy makes sure all is good for RNC

Posted at 8:52 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 20:52:00-04

There are so many things that go into making the Republican National Convention a success, put electricity at the top of the list. Making sure that Quicken Loans Arena, the Convention Center and all of downtown is supplied with an uninterrupted supply is the focus of FirstEnergy.

"As a whole our employees have worked about 30,000 man hours just on RNC prep work," said spokesperson Mark Durbin.

Durbin said electricity demand could be at an all-time high in downtown Cleveland during the July convention and they spent more than $3 million on infrastructure inspections, maintenance and employee training. That training including a series of readiness exercises, to help ensure reliable electric service for the week-long event.

FirstEnergy states the electricity being used in downtown Cleveland on a typical July day is about six megawatts (MW), with one MW equaling the amount of electricity used to power about 1,000 homes.  During the convention, the company anticipates that power usage could jump an additional 3-4 MW, especially if the weather is hot and humid.  

“Our system in downtown Cleveland was designed to safely handle the increased electrical load expected during the Republican National Convention,” said John Skory, regional president, The Illuminating Company. 

That’s meant inspecting transmission lines by helicopter, substations with special thermal cameras and checked the 1,600 miles of transmission lines around downtown and in case you haven’t looked up to notice they are all underground.

"We've been in hundreds of manholes,” said Terry Perona FirstEnergy’s Underground Network Manager. “Not only doing inspections but making repairs on items we've found during those inspections."

That includes the roughly 60 underground vaults with built in backups around downtown.

Part of FirstEnergy’s planning also includes the basic summer threat of a storm that knocks out residential power. Normally the electric company would bring in help from out of state to restore power, putting them up in hotels, hotels though that will be filled with delegates.

"Well where are they going to stay?” asked Durbin. “We’ve contracted with a company to have sleep trailers on standby just in case that we can put in the staging area for outside crews to come in and stay."