Toledo Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is upgrading infrastructure and installing technology to modernize its electric system in northwest Ohio to help prevent power outages and provide more flexibility in restoring power faster. The work is part of an initial three-year phase of the company's grid modernization plan and includes installation of new automated equipment and technology in substations and along power lines serving more than 40,000 customers in parts of Toledo, Maumee, Holland, and nearby areas.
Utility personnel are upgrading electrical equipment in two Lucas County substations as well as modernizing the power lines from those facilities that deliver electric service to customers. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of more than 60 new automated reclosing devices in the substations and along the power lines that will 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 rather than 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 and 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.
"While we cannot eliminate the possibility of outages occurring because of reasons out of our control, like severe weather, we can take steps to minimize the length and impact of service interruptions when they do occur," said Rich Sweeney, regional president of Toledo Edison. "The work we're doing across Toledo will provide new technology and backup power lines for many customers, reducing many power interruptions to just a brief or momentary outage."
Additional power lines are also being constructed to provide more flexibility in restoring outages because of events such as storms and vehicle accidents. The new power lines 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.
More than 80 capacitor banks are being 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.
This work builds upon system upgrades that were completed last year in the greater Toledo area, including the installation of more than 40 automated reclosing devices, nearly a dozen capacitor banks and construction of new power lines. Additional modernization work is planned across the region through 2022.