By Alana Roberts
Regional Affairs Director, PPL Electric Utilities
If you’ve been out at night recently and seen small flashing lights along the electric lines, you might have wondered what they were. You might even have been concerned.
There’s good news—what you saw weren’t sparks and there’s no need for alarm.
What you really saw were devices on the electricity network that help provide strong service – but sometimes cause some public confusion.
As part of efforts to increase reliability and more quickly restore outages, PPL Electric Utilities has placed fault indicators on many power lines. These devices are small enough to be held in the hand, and can be moved from place to place on the network.
If these devices sense problems on the line, their lights will start blinking. They provide information about the location of the problem and serve as a guide for repair crews.
Some customers mistake the flashing indicator for sparking wires or a wire fire and call their local 911 center. PPL Electric Utilities is working to share information on fault indicators with the public so customers recognize the devices and are less likely to call first responders when they see one. (Of course, you should still call in case of a real emergency.)
We’re also sharing information with fire and police departments so they can recognize these devices if they receive a call.
If you have questions about fault indicators – or you want to report a real emergency, such as a downed wire – don’t hesitate to call 1-800-DIAL-PPL (342-5775).
Fault indicators are just one example of new technology helping to keep the lights on.
PPL Electric Utilities will also be installing hundreds of additional smart grid devices on the electricity network this year, including some in your area.
Smart grid technology can automatically reroute power around the scene of an outage, restoring many customers to service within minutes. Smart grid devices are already on duty across our 29-county service area, and the ones we’re adding this year will improve outage response still further.
You might also see one of our new bucket trucks with electric-powered lifts. These trucks are environmentally friendly because our crews no longer have to keep the engine running to power the lift. They’re also a lot quieter as a result. While you might see one of these trucks on duty, you’re a lot less likely to hear it.
These are all examples of technology Thomas Edison never dreamed of – and, who knows, maybe if he saw a fault indicator, he’d wonder what it was, too. But there’s no need for concern about these small flashing lights in the night.
PPL Electric Utilities has been a member of The Chamber since 1947.