WILLIAMSPORT, Md., Jan. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing efforts to improve its electric system, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) invested approximately $168 million in 2014 in the Potomac Edison service area on reliability infrastructure projects and other work, including building new transmission lines, new substations and installing remote-control equipment to help reduce the number and duration of power outages.
About $45 million of the total has been spent on transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (TrAILCo), a FirstEnergy transmission company.
"These projects, along with trimming trees, help us enhance day-to-day service reliability for our customers along with maintaining our system's capability to handle future load growth," said James A. Sears, Jr., president of FirstEnergy's Maryland Operations and vice president of Potomac Edison. "The work is making a difference. As a result of tree trimming in recent years, outages from limbs and trees falling into our lines have decreased. Between 2011 and 2014, our trimming program helped reduce by about 35 percent the number of Potomac Edison customers affected by a tree-related service interruption."
Some of the key FirstEnergy projects in Potomac Edison's service area in 2014 include:
- Finishing an $18 million project to rebuild a major 500-kilovolt transmission line in Frederick County. The upgrade increases the line's capacity by more than 60 percent to enhance service reliability for existing customers and accommodate future growth in Maryland and West Virginia. As part of the project, crews replaced existing structures with 14 new steel towers.
- Trimming trees to maintain proper clearances along about 2,200 miles of power lines in Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia at a cost of about $25 million.
- Installing a new control building and emergency generator at a large substation in Frederick County at a cost of more than $4 million.
- Completing a $58 million project to expand a large substation near Winchester, Va. The upgrade is designed to help enhance service reliability for existing customers and accommodate future growth in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.
- Upgrading equipment on about 90 distribution circuits at a cost of nearly $4 million. The enhancements – installing new wire, cable and fuses and replacing other equipment – are designed to enhance service reliability for about 65,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.
- Replacing about 20 miles of underground distribution cable at a cost of more than $4.5 million. Crews worked on 60 projects throughout the service area, including major projects in West Frederick and Damascus in Maryland and Shepherdstown and Lost River in West Virginia.
- Repairing and replacing 1,200 wood utility poles at a cost of about $2 million. Crews inspected 23,000 of more than 400,000 wood poles throughout the service area. Poles were inspected in and around Cumberland, Falling Waters, Frederick, Martinsburg, Mt. Airy, Oakland and Williamsport.
- Installing new equipment at a cost of about $2.8 million to increase capacity of a substation in Montgomery County, Md. to accommodate accelerated growth in the Germantown and Clarksburg areas.
- Installing new equipment at a substation in Berkeley County, W. Va., at a cost of $1.7 million to allow for anticipated load growth and help enhance reliability for existing customers in the Tabler and Inwood areas.
Planning also continues for additional projects that are expected to be completed in 2015, including new substations, transmission lines and circuit upgrades.
In 2014, Potomac Edison made it easier for customers to check the progress of service restoration efforts when they experience a power outage. The company's 24/7 Power Center outage maps now display the status of crews restoring service after a power outage. With this enhancement, Potomac Edison customers can see when crews have been dispatched, when they are working on a repair, and when additional crews or equipment are needed to complete restoration work.
Potomac Edison customers also can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications to receive billing reminders, weather alerts in advance of major storms, and updates on scheduled or extended power outages. Customers can also use two-way text messaging to report outages, request updates on restoration efforts, and make other inquiries about their electric accounts.
Potomac Edison serves about 250,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 132,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Visit FirstEnergy on the web at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow Potomac Edison on Twitter @PotomacEdison.
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. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release includes forward-looking statements based on information currently available to management. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. These statements include declarations regarding management's intents, beliefs and current expectations. These statements typically contain, but are not limited to, the terms "anticipate," "potential," "expect," "forecast," "will," "intend," "believe," "estimate" and similar words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry, in general, and the retail sales market in particular; the ability to experience growth in the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments and to successfully implement our revised sales strategy in the Competitive Energy Services segment; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission plan and pending distribution rate cases and the effectiveness of our repositioning strategy; the impact of the regulatory process on pending matters in the various states in which we do business including, but not limited to, matters related to rates and pending rate cases, and the Electric Security Plan IV in Ohio; the impact of the federal regulatory process on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated entities and transactions, in particular FERC regulation of wholesale energy and capacity markets, including the PJM markets and also FERC-jurisdictional wholesale transactions, FERC regulation of cost-of-service rates, including FERC Opinion No. 531's revised Return on Equity methodology for FERC-jurisdictional wholesale generation and transmission utility service and FERC's compliance and enforcement activity, including compliance and enforcement activity related to NERC's mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated's realignment into PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.; economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins such as a polar vortex or other significant weather events, and all associated regulatory events or actions; regulatory outcomes associated with storm restoration costs, including but not limited to, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm of 2011; changing energy, capacity and commodity market prices including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil, and their availability and impact on margins; the continued ability of our regulated utilities to recover their costs; costs being higher than anticipated and the success of our policies to control costs and to mitigate low energy, capacity and market prices; other legislative and regulatory changes, and revised environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, possible greenhouse gases emission, water discharge, and coal combustion residuals regulations, the potential impacts of Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rules including our estimated costs of compliance; the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures that may arise in connection with any litigation, including New Source Review litigation, or potential regulatory initiatives or rulemakings (including that such expenditures could result in our decision to deactivate or idle certain generating units); the uncertainties associated with the deactivation of certain older regulated and competitive fossil units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and the timing thereof as they relate to, among other things, Reliability Must Run arrangements and the reliability of the transmission grid; the impact of other future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units; adverse regulatory or legal decisions and outcomes with respect to our nuclear operations (including, but not limited to the revocation or non-renewal of necessary licenses, approvals or operating permits by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or as a result of the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant); issues arising from the indications of cracking in the shield building at Davis-Besse; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings, including, but not limited to, any such proceedings related to vendor commitments; replacement power costs being higher than anticipated or not fully hedged; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes in customers' demand for power, including, but not limited to, changes resulting from the implementation of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, the ability to continue to reduce costs and successfully execute our announced financial plans designed to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet through, among other actions, our previously-implemented dividend reduction and our other proposed capital raising initiatives; our ability to improve electric commodity margins and the impact of, among other factors, the increased cost of fuel and fuel transportation on such margins; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger than currently anticipated; the impact of changes to material accounting policies; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our announced financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect us and/or our subsidiaries' access to financing, increase the costs thereof, and increase requirements to post additional collateral to support outstanding commodity positions, letters of credit and other financial guarantees; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting us, our subsidiaries and/or our major industrial and commercial customers and other counterparties with which we do business, including fuel suppliers; the impact of any changes in tax laws or regulations or adverse tax audit results or rulings; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other similar factors. The foregoing review of factors should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on FirstEnergy's business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. FirstEnergy expressly disclaims any current intention to update, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.