Over & Out
May 26, 2020
Employees at our Pennsylvania utilities − Met-Ed, Penelec, Penn Power and West Penn Power − use radio systems in their company vehicles to communicate between their respective distribution control centers (DCCs) and field mobile radio units. To comply with a statewide system upgrade, FirstEnergy Utilities (FEU) will begin installing new radios in those vehicles this year.
“Pennsylvania is in the process of updating its emergency radio communications system from an old legacy network to an enhanced one – called STARNet P25 – with greater benefits and capabilities,” said John Kosko, communications systems design specialist. “This upgrade will not only reduce state costs, but also support more radio frequencies and provide better operability and connectivity for users.”
Utility companies, transportation entities and other state agencies rely on Pennsylvania’s radio system to perform critical dispatch, mobile voice and data communications work required for public safety and emergency response programs.
To ensure seamless operations once the new standard takes effect in mid-2021, FEU will begin converting equipment this year. The work, which is slated to be performed after hours to minimize disruptions, involves replacing radios in company vehicles, replacing portable field devices and making modifications to DCC and Transmission Control Center dispatch consoles and interface devices.
Conversions are scheduled for each utility as follows:
- Penn Power – second and third quarter of 2020
- Met Ed – third and fourth quarter of 2020
- West Penn Power and Penelec – first and second quarter of 2021
While Pennsylvania works to convert its counties to the new radio system, the current system will remain functional. However, after June 30, 2021, it will no longer be supported.
“FirstEnergy has a readiness plan in place that closely aligns with the state’s timeline, positioning us well for a smooth transition,” John added. “Our conversion work will be complete in advance of any deactivation deadline the state has set for retiring the old system.”