FirstEnergy Corp. invested approximately $263 million in 2014 in The Illuminating Company service area on reliability infrastructure projects and other work, including building new transmission lines, new substations, and installing remote-control equipment designed to help reduce the number and duration of power outages. More than $161 million of the total has been spent on transmission-related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, a FirstEnergy transmission company.
"The infrastructure projects we completed in 2014, and in previous years, are making a difference when it comes to reducing the number of outages our customers might experience," said John Skory, regional president, The Illuminating Company. "We expect the results will show that in 2014 The Illuminating Company performed better than the service reliability standards established by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which we largely attribute to the work we have done to make our system more robust." Some of the key FirstEnergy projects in The Illuminating Company's northeast Ohio service area in 2014 include:
• Constructing a new substation in Glenwillow at a cost of approximately $12 million as part of a larger project that involves building a new 345-kilovolt transmission line from FirstEnergy's Bruce Mansfield Power Plant along the Ohio River to the Cleveland area to enhance system reliability.
• Installing synchronous condenser voltage regulating equipment in Eastlake at a cost of about $25 million. The purpose of a synchronous condenser is to adjust conditions on the transmission grid by stabilizing voltage levels.
• Spending more than $16 million in 2014 to continue work on new sub-transmission circuits in downtown Cleveland as part of a large-scale project designed to handle future load growth around the Cleveland Clinic. This multi-year project is scheduled to be completed by 2016.
• Rebuilding portions of a major substation in Northfield. The overall cost for the project was approximately $6 million.
• Trimming trees on the distribution system to maintain proper clearances along 2,000 mi of power lines at a cost of more than $10 million.
• Spending approximately $1 million to proactively remove trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, which could fall on electrical equipment and otherwise cause service interruptions.
• Spending more than $5.7 million inspecting and replacing distribution poles in The Illuminating Company's service area. This inspection process is conducted on a 10-year cycle. More than 45,000 utility poles were inspected in 2014, with more than 2,200 replaced or reinforced.
• Spending more than $3 million inspecting, repairing or replacing nearly 100,000 feet of underground circuits and equipment.
Planning also is continuing for additional projects that are expected to be completed in 2015, including new substations, transmission lines and circuit upgrades.
In 2014, The Illuminating Company 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, The Illuminating Company 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.