Penn College hosts PPL Electric Utilities Live Line Electrical Safety Exhibit
PPL, a Corporate Tomorrow Maker partner of the college, takes its mobile electrical safety exhibit across its service territory to teach first responders, contractors, businesses, school students and the public about the dangers of live wires and how to stay safe around them.
The exhibit is a scaled-down 7,200-volt electrical distribution system that features live electrical wires, utility poles and transformers. It was designed in 2016 by representatives from across PPL Electric Utilities’ operations who met in PPL’s Innovation Lab to brainstorm ways to present the information. PPL provides 100 such demonstrations to more than 10,000 people annually.
At the Sept. 15 event at Penn College, PPL’s Doug Haupt, supervisor of public safety, and Steve Krause, public safety specialist, demonstrated in two one-hour sessions what occurs when ladders, gloves, shovels and other items come into contact with live electrical lines. They also provided the proper procedures to follow when these situations are encountered.
“This exhibit was put together to educate our first responders, our contractors and our customers about the dangers of working near electrical facilities,” Haupt explained.
Total attendance was more than 100 for the day. Penn College students from electrical, construction, machining, welding, electronics and paramedic programs were invited, with more than 40 attending each demonstration. In addition, more than 20 first responders from Lycoming County, including local firefighters and paramedics, attended the demonstrations.
“PPL Electric Utilities and Pennsylvania College of Technology have a long-standing relationship of supporting each other,” said Tracie Witter, regional affairs director. “From PPL employees who are graduates of the college to our foundation providing funding for programs such as Penn College NOW and the mechatronics program, PPL believes in a thriving future workforce. Our team appreciates the opportunity to share the important electrical safety messages with students. Our hope is that they learned valuable lessons and share the message with others.”
“Having a resource like the PPL Live Line Electrical Safety Exhibit available to our campus and local community is a great way to showcase the hazards associated with the transmission of electricity around our area, not only at a higher voltage but even at the lower levels found in our homes,” said Eric W. Newcomer, instructor of electrical technologies and occupations. “Thanks to all the Penn College students, faculty, staff and administration; the Williamsport Bureau of Fire; and all the off-campus visitors that stopped by to see the demonstrations. We are looking forward to PPL's return visit for the spring semester on Monday, April 18.”
“Penn College is proud to have PPL Electric Utilities as a Corporate Tomorrow Maker partner and greatly appreciates its commitment to our college and community,” said Chris S. Macdonald, assistant director of corporate relations. “This exhibit provides valuable knowledge that can help save lives. We would like to thank the PPL team for offering these powerful presentations to our students, faculty and local first responders.”
Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education. For more, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.
– Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer;
and Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor
In a demonstration presented about 150 times in 2019, trained PPL staff – in protective clothing and a controlled environment – recreate sparks, flames, smoke and crackling that occur when tools and other items come
in contact with live electrical lines. “We need to make sure our first responders, contractors and customers understand electricity and how to work safely around it,” Haupt said.
Smart grids allow power to be restored far more quickly after disruptive events, such as a squirrel taking out electricity.
How safe are those gloves you’ve got? PPL workers’ personal protective equipment includes leather gloves over rubber gloves that are tested regularly.
The impact of electricity on a piece of asphalt turns it to glass, Haupt explains.
Krause shows how a pair of rubber boots can be compromised. Even a pinhole in the boot can be disastrous, the demonstrators showed as the boot caught fire.
Spectators a-plenty turn out for PPL's parking lot presentation, arranged by electrical faculty member (and alumnus) Eric W. Newcomer and repeated several times that day.