Work Underway to Upgrade The Illuminating Company’s Electrical Power System in Parma

Jan. 25, 2022
Similar work planned in Shaker Heights and Cleveland in 2022.

The Illuminating Company, a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary, is upgrading power infrastructure in Parma, Cuyahoga County, to reinforce the local power grid and prevent lengthy service disruptions, especially during severe weather. The work includes installation of new, automated equipment and technology in substations and along neighborhood power lines serving nearly 15,000 residents and businesses in the area.

"The work underway in Parma will provide new technology and backup power lines for thousands of our customers and reduce many power interruptions to just a brief or momentary outage," said Ed Shuttleworth, president of FirstEnergy's Ohio operations. "This project complements upgrades completed across our entire service area over recent years that have resulted in fewer and shorter outages, particularly during severe weather events."

Utility personnel are upgrading electrical equipment in two local substations as well as the power lines that deliver electric service to customers from those facilities. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of 41 new automated reclosing devices in the substations 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 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.

The project also includes the creation of additional circuit ties along power lines that will allow more flexibility in restoring an outage faster. A single circuit can serve thousands of customers, which means an outage due to a fallen tree on a power line could affect all customers served by that circuit. Circuit ties essentially split the circuit into sections, isolating outages to a smaller number of areas and reducing the overall number of customers impacted during an outage by switching them to a different circuit for faster service restoration.

Lastly, nearly 35 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 voltages being fed into their homes or businesses.

The work underway in Parma kicked off in November and is expected to be completed in 2022. Similar work is planned in neighborhoods throughout Shaker Heights and the city of Cleveland over the next six months.

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