Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is rebuilding a power line and constructing a new substation to enhance service reliability for more than 1,200 electric customers in mountainous, densely forested northern Frederick County, Maryland.
The $4 million project includes rebuilding nearly six miles of a 12-kV distribution line from Wolfsville, Maryland, to a new substation that will be built near Foxville. Construction crews are setting new 45-foot wooden utility poles in existing right-of-way and replacing mostly single-wire distribution circuit with a new three-wire line to increase capacity.
Smart technology capable of detecting irregular conditions also will be installed on the line. Programmable electronic circuit breakers or "reclosers" can automatically isolate damage and reconfigure the distribution network to use an alternate pathway for power, helping to limit the scope of outages and shorten their duration. The line is expected to be completed later this summer.
The new substation site is located in the Foxville area and will be interconnected to a nearby 138-kV transmission line. County officials recently approved the substation plans. The company is in the process of securing the necessary permits to start construction on the substation later this summer with plans for it to be completed and operational before year-end.
"The distribution circuit that currently serves our Potomac Edison customers in the Myersville and Wolfsville areas runs through woods and has been prone to tree-related outages," said James A. Sears, Jr., FirstEnergy's president of Maryland Operations. "This project is designed to enhance reliability and reduce service interruptions by using the new substation to divide the existing 114-mile line into two shorter circuits providing electricity to about 600 customers each."
The new substation will include a transformer that converts higher transmission voltages to lower distribution voltage levels that can be used to power electrical devices at homes and businesses. The substation also will contain a circuit breaker and relay devices, which automatically interrupt the flow of electricity to protect equipment from falling trees, vehicle accidents or lightning strikes. System operators can monitor conditions at the substation and, as needed, reset the devices remotely to reduce the size and duration of an outage.
The project is one of numerous distribution and transmission infrastructure projects totaling about $156 million that FirstEnergy Corp. plans to work on in 2018 for the Potomac Edison service area.