West Penn Power Spend of $110 Million in 2013 Designed to Enhance Electric System and Reliability

Apr 18, 2013, 10:39 ET from FirstEnergy Corp.

GREENSBURG, Pa., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp (NYSE: FE), announced today that its spend of approximately $110 million in 2013 is designed to further enhance the electrical system and reliability in its 24-county service area.  Major projects scheduled for this year include transmission improvements, building new circuits, replacing underground cables, inspecting and replacing utility poles and ongoing vegetation management programs.

"The planned infrastructure projects 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 Douglas Elliott, FirstEnergy's president of Pennsylvania operations.  "From installing new equipment at substations and replacing cables, to spending on vegetation management, our ultimate goal is to continue to enhance the reliability of our system to benefit our customers."

West Penn Power's 2013 enhancements are expected to have both localized and widespread benefits to customers throughout the service area.  About $19 million will be spent on a variety of transmission expansions and enhancements intended to increase the capacity and robustness of West Penn Power's high-voltage transmission system.  Other scheduled projects include:

  • Installing a 500-kilovolt (kV) transformer at a substation near Mt. Morris in Greene County, Pa., to help reinforce the transmission system in southwestern Pennsylvania at a cost of more than $5 million.
  • Constructing the remaining 8.5 miles of new 138-kV transmission line and adding breakers to the Whiteley Substation in Greene County, Pa., to enhance the transmission network in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The final phase of this $12 million, multi-year project will be completed this year.
  • Upgrading 138-kV substations to improve voltage support, including work at the Luxor Substation near Greensburg in Westmoreland County, Pa., and at both the Guilford and Grandpoint substations near Chambersburg in Franklin County, Pa.
  • Continuing West Penn Power's ongoing vegetation management program to trim trees and maintain proper clearances to help reduce tree-related storm damage along nearly 4,500 miles of distribution and sub-transmission lines at a cost of nearly $25 million.
  • Upgrading equipment on 60 distribution circuits throughout the service territory to enhance service reliability.  These improvements – including installing new wire, cable and fuses – are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability for 50,000 West Penn Power customers in Pennsylvania.
  • Replacing underground distribution cables.  Work totaling more than $500,000 will enhance service to the Saybrook area in Greensburg and other communities.  Outages involving underground wires often take longer to restore than overhead outages.
  • Upgrading the Byerly Crest distribution substation in the North Huntingdon area of Route 30 in Westmoreland County, Pa., will be completed to enhance service reliability.
  • Replacing approximately two miles of wire with larger conductor on a distribution circuit serving the Murrysville area of Westmoreland County, Pa., will be done to improve day-to-day reliability and position the area for future growth.
  • Replacing approximately one mile of conductor on a distribution circuit near the Butler County Fairgrounds will provide increased capacity in this high-growth area.
  • Upgrading the Clark Farm Substation in the areas of Chartiers Township in Washington County, Pa., and Houston, Pa.
  • Spending more than $11 million on various projects to expand the distribution system throughout West Penn Power's 24-county service area.
  • Inspecting and replacing distribution poles in the West Penn Power service area has begun.  This inspection process is conducted on a 12-year cycle in Pennsylvania and replacement work is scheduled to be completed by the end of fall.

West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in 24 Pennsylvania counties.  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," "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 FERC 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 ATSI's realignment into PJM, economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins, regulatory outcomes associated with Hurricane Sandy, changing energy, capacity and commodity (including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil) market prices and availability and their impact on retail margins, financial derivative reforms that could increase our liquidity needs and collateral costs, the continued ability of our regulated utilities to collect transition and other costs, operation and maintenance costs being higher than anticipated, other legislative and regulatory changes, and revised environmental requirements, including possible GHG emission, water discharge, water intake and coal combustion residual regulations, the potential impacts of CAIR, and any laws, rules or regulations that ultimately replace CAIR, and the effects of the EPA's MATS 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 NSR 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 unscrubbed regulated and competitive fossil units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and the timing thereof as they relate to, among other things, the RMR 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 NRC or as a result of the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant), adverse legal decisions and outcomes related to ME's and PN's ability to recover certain transmission costs through their TSC riders, 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 inadequately 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 successfully complete the proposed West Virginia asset transfer and to improve our credit metrics, 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 segment 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 NDTs, 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 financing 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 our subsidiaries' access to financing, increase the costs thereof, and increase requirements to post additional collateral to support outstanding commodity positions, LOCs 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 SEC 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 the business of FirstEnergy or the Companies 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 and the Companies expressly disclaim 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.