Ohio Edison, a FirstEnergy Corp. electric company, has completed upgrades to its power system in Alliance, Stark County, to help prevent or minimize the length of service disruptions, particularly during severe weather. The work includes installation of new, automated equipment and technology in a substation and along power lines serving nearly 5000 customers in Alliance.
"Every project is customized and designed to address the particular reliability needs of each community where work is being done," said Ed Shuttleworth, president of FirstEnergy's Ohio operations. "These upgrades will allow us to restore service to our customers faster following severe weather events and reduce many power interruptions to just a brief or momentary outage."
Utility personnel upgraded electrical equipment in an Alliance substation as well as modernized the power lines that deliver electric service to customers from the facility. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of 13 new automated reclosing devices in the substation and along power lines to help limit the frequency, duration and scope of service interruptions.
These 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 substation or power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers. This technology is safer and more efficient because it often allows utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers in lieu of sending a crew to investigate.
If the device senses a more serious issue, like a fallen tree on electrical equipment, it will isolate the outage to that area to limit the total number of affected customers. The device's smart technology will quickly pinpoint the location of the fault and help utility personnel better understand the cause of the outage to help speed restoration.
To determine the best locations for these automated devices, utility personnel, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, reviewed outage patterns across Stark County and identified areas that would benefit from new technology.
Nearly 18 miles of additional power lines that tie together existing circuits were also constructed to provide more flexibility in restoring service following outages caused by events such as storms and vehicle accidents. The new power lines — designed to better withstand tree debris and severe weather — will help reduce the length and overall number of customers impacted during an outage by switching them to a backup line for faster service restoration.
Lastly, seven capacitor banks and four voltage regulators were installed to help ensure all customers served by a single power line receive the same flow of safe, reliable power by evenly distributing electricity down the line. These devices are expected to reduce energy usage for customers served near the beginning of a power line because they will benefit from lower power voltages being fed into their homes or businesses.
The work builds upon power system upgrades completed across northeast Ohio over the past two years. The upgrades have improved average restoration times in some areas by nearly an hour in more complex outage scenarios, such as equipment damage from severe weather or a vehicle accident.
Additional work is planned across the region as part of the company's three-year portfolio of grid modernization work that began in 2020.