FirstEnergy Corp. is undertaking more than $600 million in transmission projects through 2018 in the company's Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) and Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed) service areas. The projects will benefit more than one million customers by enhancing the flow of electricity across the region and incorporating new, smart technologies to help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.
Through its Energizing the Future initiative, FirstEnergy will pursue approximately 336 projects through next year to modernize or replace transmission lines, incorporate new, smart technology into the grid, and outfit dozens of electric substations with new equipment, digital communications and enhanced security features. Often considered the interstate highway of the power grid, the transmission system carries energy from where it is generated to the local distribution networks serving homes and businesses.
"The transmission system is essential to delivering reliable electric service to the communities we serve," said Carl Bridenbaugh, vice president, Transmission. "We expect that modernizing our transmission grid will boost the performance of our electric system and help prevent power outages."
Initial projects will focus on rebuilding transmission lines and reinforcing key substations on the 230-kilovolt (kV) network so future improvements can be made without interrupting service to customers. Key projects include:
- Adding circuit breakers and other equipment to existing substations in Mifflin, Dauphin and Adams counties, at a combined cost of approximately $16 million. If a problem is detected on the system, the new breakers interrupt the flow of electricity before permanent and costly damage can occur in the substation.
- Upgrading an existing 230-kV line in northcentral Pennsylvania to enhance service reliability for Penelec electric customers in Lackawanna, Wyoming, and Susquehanna Counties. FirstEnergy will replace the existing 27-mile line with new structures capable of carrying higher-capacity conductor wires, at an estimated cost of $64.2 million.
- Rebuilding an existing 20-mile, 115-kV transmission line in Bradford County with a "double-circuit" design capable of carrying two separate sets of conductor wires that can operate at 230-kV, at an estimated cost of $40 million.
- Upgrading an existing 115-kV substation to a more advanced design that helps reduce the frequency and duration of power outages for customers in Jefferson and Indiana counties. The addition of three new circuit breakers will also allow grid operators to perform line switching faster, shortening restoration time and enhancing system performance. The estimated project cost is $6.9 million.
FirstEnergy launched Energizing the Future in 2014, investing nearly $4.2 billion over the past four years on transmission upgrades primarily in its Ohio service territory. These projects resulted in transmission system reliability improvements that FirstEnergy will seek to replicate across its Pennsylvania territory. FirstEnergy will build these projects through its new transmission affiliate company, Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC (MAIT).