See how FirstEnergy is prepared to meet huge demand during RNC

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CLEVELAND, Ohio-- When the Republican National Convention kicks off in July, FirstEnergy expects the demand for electricity to increase significantly.

The company says on a typical July day they expect the City of Cleveland to use six megawatts of electricity. During the convention that could increase by another three-and-a-half or four megawatts.

The demand could be highest if July temperatures soar.

But the company says after reviewing the system currently in place they are confident the need will be met.

"The demand for electricity downtown has been looked at and scrutinized by our planning and protection group. We have plenty of capacity available for what they are forecasting for that week so we really see no problems providing service to our customers that week," said Terry Perona, manager for underground cable services for the Illuminating Company.

FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin compared the system to a highway, explaining that while the road can handle the routine traffic it is also built to move cars along when traffic increases.

Over the past year the company has inspected and tested 1,600 miles of underground cable that serves Cleveland.

They have examined the system using thermal imaging cameras to detect what the eyes cannot see, and made repairs where necessary.

Crews have tested backup systems that should kick in if there is a problem at places like Quicken Loans Arena or the Convention Center and believe if there is an interruption it will be hardly noticeable.

Beginning Saturday, before the convention begins, crews will be staging downtown where they can respond to any problems quickly.

"All my employees have been gracious enough to cancel their vacations during that time period so we will have all hands available to respond to anything that arises during that week," said Perona.

Crews will also undergo training to learn what they can do if they find themselves confronted by an unruly crowd.

Eventually manhole covers nearest the convention sites will be sealed off to prevent tampering.

FirstEnergy has also considered what might happen if a bad storm hits the area causing damage to the suburbs.

Crews from outside of Cleveland would be called in to help restore power but with hotel rooms full the company is preparing to provide temporary shelters at the fairgrounds so that the visiting crews will have a place to stay.

"I don't think we left any stone unturned for this event. We have been very thorough, very proactive, and very aggressive in going after things that need to be paid attention to," said Perona.

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