FirstEnergy Announces $2.8 Billion Expansion of "Energizing the Future" Transmission Initiative Projects Designed to Enhance Service Reliability by Using Remotely Controlled "Smart" Technology
AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) has announced that it plans to invest an additional $2.8 billion over four years to expand its previously announced "Energizing the Future" transmission initiative. The main focus of the initial construction effort will be the 69 kilovolt (kV) transmission power lines and substations in the Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison and Penn Power areas. The program is expected to be expanded into other FirstEnergy service territories during the next several years.
"Our work on the backbone of our network will focus on enhancing the service reliability to the communities, businesses and homes in our service areas," said Anthony J. Alexander, president and chief executive officer, FirstEnergy. "The average age for much of this equipment is more than 40 years old. Our goal is to replace outdated equipment with state-of-the-art 'smart' technology that can be operated remotely in order to help prevent some outages from occurring. And if an outage does occur, the new equipment can help reduce the number of customers who are affected, and shorten the duration."
Work on these new "Energizing the Future" projects is expected to begin in 2014 and continue through 2017.
The 69 kV system is the vital link between the high voltage transmission lines and the distribution network that provides power to end-use customers. As part of this program, approximately 7,200 circuit miles of 69 kV and higher transmission lines will be evaluated and rebuilt, as needed. More than 170 substations will be inspected and upgraded, along with 70,000 transmission structures that will be evaluated and rebuilt, as needed.
The scope of the work will involve adding redundancies to the network, which is another step designed to enhance customer service reliability. Work also will be done to improve security at substations by adding new fencing, thermal imaging devices, and various surveillance options.
While some of the projects will be done by FirstEnergy personnel, certain aspects of the work will be completed by area electrical contractors, which will benefit the local economy by creating additional construction jobs. Over four years, this program is expected to put more than 1,100 contractors to work, with the majority being union workers from northeast Ohio.
Once operational, FirstEnergy's investments are expected to benefit the communities where the company has substations, transmission lines and equipment by increasing tax payments, which will support local schools and police and fire services. Because most of the work will be done on the company's existing rights-of-way or at existing substations and other facilities, the environmental impact to communities is expected to be minimal.
Overall, the new transmission projects are designed to increase FirstEnergy's load serving capability in areas where future economic growth is anticipated, particularly in Ohio's shale gas regions; improve reliability of service; create more flexibility to restore service following storms; reduce line losses; and lower the company's overall transmission maintenance costs.
The "Energizing the Future" initiative previously was announced in May 2012 as part of FirstEnergy's ongoing commitment to enhance its high-voltage transmission system. Many of the projects – including new or rebuilt high-voltage power lines, new substations, and the installation of specialized voltage regulating equipment – are needed to help support system reliability as coal-fired power plants in the region are deactivated based on the U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental rules. Overall, these initial "Energizing the Future" projects represent about a $1.8 billion investment in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland over the next five years.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York. Its generation subsidiaries control more than 18,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro, pumped-storage hydro and other renewables. American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, owns FirstEnergy's transmission lines and substations in Ohio. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.