As part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen the durability and flexibility of its electric system, FirstEnergy Corp. plans to invest in several electric utilities this year.
The company plans to invest more than $110 million in 2014 on service reliability infrastructure upgrades in Mon Power's 34-county service area, primarily in north-central West Virginia. This represents about a $32 million increase compared to what the company invested in reliability infrastructure in the same area last year. The vast majority of the projects are designed to upgrade, expand and inspect Mon Power's distribution system, as well as perform tree trimming and enhance both service capacity and reliability. The scheduled projects include:
- Investing more than $33 million to support the expanding Marcellus shale gas industry. Projects are in the Fairmont, Sistersville and Salem areas.
- Upgrading and replacing equipment on distribution circuits throughout the service territory at a cost of more than $3 million. The updates – including installing new wire, cable and fuses – are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability for Mon Power customers.
- Increasing capacity on the Collins Ferry-Osage 138kV transmission line at a cost of more than $5 million to help enhance both the line's performance and the reliability of regional transmission system to benefit Mon Power customers in Monongalia County near Morgantown.
- Inspecting 40,000 distribution poles and replacing about 250 poles at a cost of more than $2 million.
- Investing approximately $1.8 million to replace electrical equipment identified during routine inspections of the transmission system to enhance reliability throughout Mon Power's service area.
The company plans to invest more than $143 million in 2014 in service reliability infrastructure upgrades in its Potomac Edison service area. This represents about an $80 million increase compared to what the company invested in reliability infrastructure projects in western Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia last year. Major projects scheduled for this year include transmission enhancements, building new distribution circuits, replacing underground cables, and making system enhancements in high-growth areas experiencing new residential and commercial development. Scheduled projects include:
- Rebuilding a 500kV transmission line in Frederick County, Md., as part of a joint project with Dominion Power. Potomac Edison will invest $13 million for its part of the project which will enhance reliability of the regional electric grid.
- Continuing improvements at the Doubs Substation in Frederick County, which includes a new control building and emergency generator, at a cost of more than $4 million. The work will enhance service reliability and ensure adequate capacity to accommodate load growth in the area for years to come.
- Upgrading equipment on about 90 distribution circuits throughout the service area at a cost of about $4.4 million. The enhancements – installing new wire, cable and fuses, as well as replacing aging equipment – are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability for about 65,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.
- Replacing underground distribution cables with new equipment. Work totaling more than $4.5 million is planned in all areas of the service territory, with a focus in Frederick and Damascus, Md. Outages involving underground wires often take longer to restore than overhead outages.
The company plans to spend more than $71 million in 2014 in service reliability infrastructure upgrades in its Pennsylvania Power Company (Penn Power) service area. This represents about a $34 million increase compared to what the company invested in similar infrastructure projects in the region last year. Major projects scheduled for this year include smart meter installations, circuit and utility pole inspections and replacements, the addition of protective devices and ongoing tree trimming.
Of FirstEnergy's $71 million infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, about $37 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by American Transmission Systems Inc., a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate. The scheduled projects include:
- Investing almost $14 million on smart meter installations.
- Trimming trees along nearly 1,200 circuit miles and addressing Ash trees at risk to the Emerald Ash Borer at a cost of $6 million.
- Rewiring portions of a 138kV line at a cost of $3 million.
- Completing a 69kV line to provide several substations in the New Castle area with an additional power source at a cost of nearly $2 million.
- Continuing the inspection and replacement of utility poles on a 12-year cycle at a cost of nearly $1 million.
- Beginning the installation of capacitor banks and other equipment in the New Castle area to improve voltage stability.
The company plans to invest nearly $100 million in infrastructure upgrades in its Toledo Edison service area in 2014. This represents about a $25 million increase over what the company invested in reliability and infrastructure projects in the region last year.
Major projects scheduled for 2014 include breaking ground on a new transmission substation, upgrading transmission lines and distribution circuits, transformer additions at two transmission substations, inspecting and replacing overhead and underground circuits and utility poles as needed, and ongoing tree trimming work.
Of the company's infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, nearly $59 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by American Transmission Systems Inc., a FirstEnergy transmission company.
The various projects are expected to provide both localized and widespread benefits to Toledo Edison's customers in northwest Ohio and include:
- Beginning the construction of a new 345kV substation in Middleton Township in Wood County, scheduled to be completed in 2015. Spending on this project in 2014 will be about $18 million.
- Continuing work on a 48-mile transmission line connecting several substations to help strengthen the grid and increase flexibility in routing power at a cost of $14 million in 2014.
- Adding transformers at area substations to increase their capacity at a cost of more than $12 million.
- Replacing and upgrading equipment in several substations to help increase system reliability and reduce downtime. This work will include new circuit breakers, line spacers and insulators at a cost of more than $3 million.
- Inspecting and replacing utility poles in Clyde, Fremont, Defiance, Green Springs, Swanton and Toledo. This inspection process is conducted on a 10-year cycle. Inspections began in January, with replacement work scheduled to be performed throughout the year at a cost of more than $3 million.
- Replacing and upgrading electrical equipment and vault tops in the downtown Toledo underground electrical network. While underground facilities are generally protected from severe weather events, restoration of this equipment to service can take longer than restoring traditional overhead equipment.
- Upgrading equipment on distribution circuits in Toledo, Northwood, Weston, and Woodville. The improvements include adding and replacing lightning protection, insulators, cross arms, braces, grounds and animal guards on key distribution lines.
- Continuing Toledo Edison's ongoing tree trimming program to maintain proper clearances and help harden distribution and transmission facilities against tree-related storm damage. Some of the communities scheduled for work this year include Defiance, Maumee, Perrysburg, Rossford, Sylvania, and Toledo.
- A new 138kV transmission supply line to accommodate load growth in Troy Township in Wood County.
- Relocation and upgrading of Toledo Edison transmission and distribution facilities in support of the City of Toledo's Dorr Street Widening Project and the Ohio Department of Transportation's McCord Road Underpass/Roundabout Project in Lucas County.