Construction Underway on New Penn Power Substation in Lawrence County

Aug. 26, 2021
Upgrades will benefit more than 30,000 customers in western Pennsylvania.

Penn Power, a FirstEnergy Corp. electric company, has started construction on a new distribution substation in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, to support the area's growing demand for electricity and provide more flexibility in restoring power faster. The project includes installation of automated equipment and technology within the new substation and along power lines serving more than 30,000 customers in parts of New Castle, North Beaver Township, Shenango Township and nearby areas.

"Every project we do is customized and designed to address the particular reliability needs of each community where work is being done," said Ed Shuttleworth, regional president of Penn Power and Ohio Edison. "The work underway in Lawrence County will help meet the growing energy demands of our customers for many years to come and help reduce power interruptions to just a brief or momentary outage."

As part of the construction process, crews recently completed the foundation work at the new substation site in North Beaver Township and will begin erecting steel structures at the facility in mid-September. The project also includes construction of a short, high-voltage power line to connect the new substation with an existing 69-kV line located nearby. Such ties offer 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. The new substation is expected to be completed and operational by the end of this year.

Once the new facility is in use, hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of new automated reclosing devices in the substation and along power lines that are fed from the facility 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 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.

"Upgraded substations are the first line of defense in preventing power outages because they supply the electricity that flows across our power lines to our customers," said Shuttleworth. "Think of a substation like a sprinkler. Each stream of water coming out of the sprinkler hits different parts of the lawn, just like individual power lines feed electricity to various neighborhoods."

This work builds upon system upgrades that were completed last year across Penn Power's service area, including the installation of nearly 50 automated reclosing devices and the addition of interior fencing in three substations to help deter climbing animals and protect against electrical equipment interference that can cause power outages.

It is part of Penn Power's second phase Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP II), approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to help enhance electric service for customers. The company's investments to upgrade the local energy grid have successfully reduced the number and length of outages customers experience by 20% in areas where work has been completed since 2016.

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