Courtesy of Guest Blogger, Paul Canevari, Regional Affairs Director, PPL Corporation
Mike Toth grew up in Tamaqua and still lives just a few miles south of the borough, right at the border of PPL Electric Utilities’ Lehigh and Northeast service areas.
“I have the privilege to interact with customers from both areas,” said Toth, the utility’s reliability supervisor for both regions.
“Improving their reliability, minimizing the duration of outages when they happen and providing something so essential for everyday living – that’s a big responsibility on behalf of thousands of people,” he said.
Toth and his staff of engineers are the technical experts for the power delivery system that serves customers in Bucks and Montgomery counties, the Lehigh Valley region and parts of Carbon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
“For our customers in these areas, our job is to ensure that all work is identified and engineered with the highest regard for public and employee safety, to make sure our customers have the power they need when they need it for their daily lives,” he said.
Toth has an associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lafayette College. He came to PPL Electric Utilities about a year ago after 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry in the Lehigh Valley area.
“Identifying projects that will improve the quality of life here is very important to me,” he said. “The work is helping power everything from smart phones to your favorite pizzeria.”
It’s also challenging work, Toth added.
There are power lines that extend for many miles, some in rural, wooded areas that are vulnerable to tree damage during strong storms.
“Our work to improve reliability includes stepping up removal of trees and tree limbs,” Toth said. “Trees too close to lines are the biggest cause of power outages in storms. We have far fewer customers affected by storms now than we did just a few years ago, because of our line clearance work.”
Installing smart grid equipment is another part of the reliability plan. It improves reliability by sensing power outages and rerouting power around the damage – reducing outage durations when they happen and restoring many customers even before repairs are made.
Other reliability work involves moving inaccessible lines closer to roadways and dividing lines into sections to reduce the number of outages customers experience on certain circuits.
“We’re helping improve service every day by strengthening and modernizing our electric delivery system,” Toth said. “We’re committed to reducing outage duration and hearing from and responding to our customers. Helping provide the fuel for everyday living -- I can’t think of a better job.”