FirstEnergy Corp. is upgrading an existing 69-kV transmission line to meet rising electric demand in some of the fastest-growing communities served by its Penn Power utility, including Mars, Seven Fields Borough, and Wexford, as well as Adams, Cranberry and Pine townships.
The $17.5 million project includes removing the existing structures and replacing them with a new set of wood poles capable of carrying new, higher capacity wires. Nearly seven miles of wire has been installed on 120 wood structures within the existing right-of-way. In addition, remote control switching devices are being added to allow grid operators to assess operational conditions more quickly, helping to reduce the length and frequency of power outages.
"Upgrading this transmission line will help keep power flowing around the clock to many of the fastest-growing communities in our service territory," said Randy Frame, regional president of Ohio Edison and Penn Power. "The new power line and remote-control equipment will help strengthen the grid and increase the flexibility and redundancy of our system."
Construction is nearly complete, with the line expected to be fully energized later this month. FirstEnergy and its contractors utilized helicopters to build the line, which significantly reduces the amount of time needed for stringing wires, reduces environmental impacts, and minimizes disruptions to local residents.
The project is part of FirstEnergy's Energizing the Future initiative, a $4.2 to $5.8 billion investment program in electric transmission infrastructure between 2017-2021. Key factors driving these investments include replacing existing equipment with advanced technologies designed to enhance system reliability; meeting projected load growth driven by shale gas-related activity and other development in the region; and reinforcing the system in light of power plant deactivations.