GREENSBURG, Pa., Feb. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its electric system, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) invested $171 million in 2015 in the West Penn Power 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.
"Each year we undertake transmission and distribution projects that will help us enhance day-to-day service reliability for our customers," said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. "The infrastructure work also helps prepare our system for future growth, including demand from western Pennsylvania's growing Marcellus shale gas industry."
Some of the key FirstEnergy projects in West Penn Power's 24-county service area in 2015 include:
- Completing a new transmission substation near St. Mary's, Pa., to reinforce the regional transmission system and enhance electric service reliability for about 95,000 West Penn Power customers in Elk County and surrounding areas. Overall, the multi-year project cost about $48 million, with about $33 million spent in 2015.
- Adding new equipment to increase and maintain voltage levels at an existing transmission substation near Houston, Pa. The $1 million substation upgrades support operations at an adjacent midstream gas processing plant.
- Installing equipment to maintain and increase voltage levels in a transmission substation near State College, Pa. The $1.4 million project should help accommodate future load growth in Centre County and is expected to enhance service reliability for about 64,000 West Penn Power customers in the area.
- Completing a new 1.7 -mile transmission line in Washington County, Pa. to provide electricity to a new natural gas compressor station in Robinson Township at a cost of about $3 million.
- Finishing various projects at a cost of about $24 million to expand the distribution system throughout West Penn Power's 24-county service area.
- Adding additional distribution line capacity in the Park Hills area of State College to help support new student housing and related development at a cost of more than $250,000.
- Completing a new 2-mile distribution line in the Manifold area of Washington, Pa. and replacing a large substation power transformer to support increased residential and commercial growth at a cost of nearly $1.7 million.
- Upgrading a distribution substation in the North Huntington area of Route 30 in Westmoreland County for more than $450,000 to enhance service reliability for more than 2,100 customers.
- Building a new 1.3-mile distribution line in the Southpointe area of Canonsburg, Pa. to support increased residential and commercial growth at a cost of nearly $700,000.
- Constructing a new distribution line in the northern area of Uniontown, Pa. to support increased residential and commercial growth at a cost of more than $150,000.
- Repairing and replacing 331 wood utility poles at a cost of about $1.6 million. Crews inspected about 60,000 of 491,000 wood utility poles throughout the service area.
- Upgrading 158 distribution circuits throughout the service territory at a cost of $1.1 million to help enhance service reliability for more than 140,000 West Penn Power customers. These enhancements included installing cross arms, new wire, cable and fuses.
About $41 million of the total was spent on transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (TrAILCo), a FirstEnergy transmission company.
Planning is continuing for additional projects that are expected to be completed in 2016, including new substations, transmission lines and circuit upgrades.
West Penn Power also began using two new apps in 2015 to more efficiently assess damage to the electrical system and dispatch crews to make repairs in the wake of major storm events. Employees in the field can use this new mobile device technology to automatically enter damage information into the company's outage management system which helps restore the most customers to service in the shortest amount of time.
West Penn Power also is continuing its Power Systems Institute program to train future linemen and substation electricians. The program combines learning hands-on utility skills at company training facilities with technical coursework at Westmoreland County Community College. Recruiting efforts are underway for the next class that will begin school this fall. Information about the Power Systems Institute is available at www.firstenergycorp.com/psi or by calling 800-829-6801.
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. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow on Twitter at @FirstEnergyCorp.
Editor's Note: Photos of some of West Penn Power's service reliability enhancements from 2015 are available for download on Flickr.
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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 for the Competitive Energy Services segment; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission investment plan, including but not limited to, our pending transmission rate case, the proposed transmission asset transfer, and the effectiveness of our repositioning strategy to reflect a more regulated business profile; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, assessment of the reliability of our transmission system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission investment opportunities; the impact of the regulatory process on the pending matters at the federal level and in the various states in which we do business including, but not limited to, matters related to rates 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 PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) markets and 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 North American Electric Reliability Corporation's mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated's realignment into PJM; 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; changing energy, capacity and commodity market prices including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil, and their availability and impact on margins and asset valuations; 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, the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, coal combustion residuals regulations, Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury and Air Toxics Standards programs, including our estimated costs of compliance, Clean Water Act waste water effluent limitations for power plants, and Clean Water Act 316(b) water intake regulation; 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 initiatives or rulemakings 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 as they relate to the reliability of the transmission grid, the timing thereof; the impact of other future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units and any capacity performance charges associated with unit unavailability; 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; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; 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 to successfully execute our financial plans designed to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet through, among other actions, our previously-implemented dividend reduction, our cash flow improvement plan 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 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; the risks associated with cyber-attacks on our electronic data centers that could compromise the information stored on our networks, including proprietary information and customer data; 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.