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The Illuminating Co. Wraps Up Projects to Strengthen Electric System

Dec. 1, 2020
Grid modernization work expected to enhance reliability for more than 150,000 customers in Ashtabula and Lake counties.

The Illuminating Co., a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is wrapping up grid modernization work expected to enhance electric service reliability for more than 150,000 customers in Ashtabula and Lake counties.

Customers will benefit from installation of 37 new automated reclosing devices that will help limit the frequency, duration, and scope of service interruptions. The electrical devices work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs, with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers.

Reclosing devices allow utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers rather than sending a crew to investigate, which is especially helpful in rural or hard-to-access areas. This automated technology is safer and more efficient. To determine the best locations for these devices, utility personnel reviewed outage patterns across The Illuminating Co.'s service territory and identified areas that would benefit from an automated reclosing device.

The projects also include replacing 11 miles of existing power lines with thicker, durable wire designed to withstand tree debris and severe weather elements. New utility poles were installed to support the electrical infrastructure and additional power lines were constructed to connect customers to an alternate circuit, allowing for more flexibility in restoring outages because of events such as storms or vehicle accidents. The work provides a backup power feed that will help keep the lights on for customers if wires or equipment on their regular line are damaged or need to be taken out of service.

Nearly 30 capacitor banks are being installed to help ensure all customers served by a single power line receive the same flow of safe, reliable electric service by evenly distributing electricity down the line.

"This work to modernize our distribution system is necessary to meet the growing energy demands of our customers for many years to come," said Mark Jones, regional president of The Illuminating Co. "The completion of this work ahead of winter is an added bonus because it strengthens our electric system when customers depend on it the most to stay warm and it will benefit them year-round."

The first phase of work in this area began in July and is expected to be complete by the end of this year. It is part of The Illuminating Co.'s Grid Modernization Plan, a three-year investment approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to modernize the electric distribution system in Ohio. In 2021, the company plans to start the second phase of work in this area, which includes installing nearly 30 additional automated reclosing devices, 37 capacitor banks, and other equipment that will benefit thousands of customers in Ashtabula and Lake counties.

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