Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission (MAIT), a transmission subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has begun construction of a new transmission line in Altoona, Pennsylvania, as part of its ongoing Energizing the Future investment program. The new line will provide flexibility to the transmission and distribution (T&D) system to quickly restore power to customers after service interruptions resulting from storms, vehicle accidents, or equipment issues.
The new 46-kV line linking Penelec's Westfall Substation near 17th Avenue to its 20th Street substation near Boyer Candy will provide a second source of electricity for the 20th Street substation. At present, the 20th Street substation and the distribution lines leaving the substation are fed by a lone transmission line, which could result in lengthy power outages if repairs were required on that line.
The new transmission line will be placed primarily on 70- to 90-ft tall wood poles and largely follow an existing distribution line corridor. Where the line turns and space is insufficient for guy wires, construction crews will erect self-supporting steel poles. The existing poles carrying the distribution circuit will be demolished and the circuit will be moved onto the same poles carrying the new transmission line.
A drilling contractor has been working to excavate holes and pour foundations for the poles for the past month. Crews are now setting poles and work is expected to be complete by mid-August. The 1-mile line will cost about US$4 million.
"This project will yield immediate benefits for about 3000 of our residential and commercial customers in the downtown area, including the Altoona Area Senior/Junior High School Complex, UPMC Station Medical Center, Jaffa Mosque, and the Railroaders Museum," said Nick Austin, regional president of Penelec. "Rather than having to wait until repairs are completed when there is a problem, we will have the capability to quickly get the lights back on for our customers by temporarily switching to a different power source."
This summer, crews will also begin rebuilding the existing 46-kV line connecting the 20th Street substation to the Collinsville Substation at a cost of approximately US$4 million. A larger wire size will be used to increase the carrying capacity of the line and enhance electric service reliability for approximately 35,000 Penelec customers in Blair County. This section is scheduled to be completed by October.