West Penn Power Completed 2013 Equipment Upgrades Designed to Enhance Service Reliability

$115 Million Spent Last Year to Expand and Strengthen Electric System and Meet Growing Electric Demand in Region

Jan 14, 2014, 14:30 ET from FirstEnergy Corp.

GREENSBURG, Pa., Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), has completed scheduled reliability projects for 2013 designed to further enhance the electrical system and reliability in its 24-county service area.  Major projects included transmission improvements, completion of new distribution circuits, replacement of underground cables, inspection and replacement of utility poles and ongoing vegetation management programs.

West Penn Power's 2013 enhancements have both localized and widespread system benefits to customers throughout the service area.  Upgrades to the distribution system included installation of new wire, cable, fuses, crossarms and lightning arrestors to enhance service reliability.  The company also completed transmission expansions and enhancements intended to increase the capacity and robustness of its high-voltage transmission system. The work is part of West Penn Power's overall $115 million investment in 2013 designed to help enhance service reliability.

Additionally, West Penn Power completed multiple reliability inspection programs, including inspecting all 2,600 miles of its subtransmission network, as well as overhead facilities on 130 distribution circuits and underground facilities on 132 distribution circuits.  The inspections help identify equipment for replacement to help minimize unplanned service interruptions.  

"These infrastructure investments, vegetation management programs and annual inspections are designed to help maintain our system on a day-to-day basis to benefit West Penn Power customers now while helping to prepare our system for future load growth," said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. "We are committed to delivering the quality service our customers expect and deserve."  

Highlights of the West Penn Power reliability work completed in 2013 include:

  • Completing vegetation management along about 5,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines at a cost of approximately $30 million.
  • Completion of a $5 million project to install a 500-kilovolt (kV) transformer at a substation near Mt. Morris in Greene County to reinforce the regional transmission system.
  • Construction of the final 8.5 miles of a new transmission line and adding breakers to the Whiteley Substation in Greene County, a $13 million project to enhance the transmission network in southwestern Pennsylvania.
  • Upgrading equipment on 18 distribution circuits to enhance reliability for 20,000 West Penn Power customers in communities including Butler, Westmoreland City, North Irwin, Ligonier, and Uniontown.
  • Spending more than $25 million to expand the company's distribution system throughout the service area.
  • Replacing underground distribution cables in several communities including Greensburg at a cost of about $240,000 to enhance service.
  • Inspection of about 52,000 utility poles and replacement of about 125 poles.       

West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in 24 Pennsylvania counties.  Visit FirstEnergy on the web at www.firstenergycorp.com, and follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power.

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," "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. Actual results may differ materially due to the speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry, in general, and the retail sales market in particular; the impact of the regulatory process on the pending matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and in the various states in which we do business including, but not limited to, matters related to rates and pending rate cases; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated's realignment into PJM Interconnection LLC; economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins; regulatory outcomes associated with storm restoration, 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 availability and their impact on retail 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 possible greenhouse gas emission, water discharge, water intake and coal combustion residual regulations, the potential impacts of Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), and/or any laws, rules or regulations that ultimately replace CAIR, 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; 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 impact of future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units; 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 reduce costs and to successfully complete our announced financial plans designed to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet, including but not limited to, proposed capital raising and debt reduction initiatives, and the proposed sale of non-core hydro assets; 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; the ability to experience growth in the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments and to continue to successfully implement our direct retail sales strategy in the Competitive Energy Services segment; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of liabilities and the value of assets held in our Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and 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 plan, 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 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 our major industrial and commercial customers, and other counterparties including fuel suppliers, with which we do business; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; 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.