With hot summer temperatures expected to produce higher electric usage, FirstEnergy Corp. has completed projects, inspections and equipment maintenance in the Toledo Edison area to help enhance service reliability for its customers in northwest Ohio.
The key project completed was a new high-voltage transmission substation in Middleton Township, south of Perrysburg, to help reinforce the grid and support future load growth following recent power plant deactivations due to environmental regulations. The cost of the project was about $20 million, including more than $5 million spent this year. The work included connecting the new substation with other substations in the region with more than 45 miles of new 345-kilovolt transmission lines at a cost of nearly $32 million, with $17.5 million spent in 2015.
"We proactively inspect our equipment and conduct maintenance prior to the summer season so we can meet the increased electrical load when customers turn up their air conditioners when the weather gets hot," said Rich Sweeney, regional president of Toledo Edison. "We work hard to ensure safe and reliable service for our customers."
Other work that was done in the Toledo Edison area to prepare for summer operations includes:
- Trimming trees along more than 650 miles of power lines to help protect against tree-related outages.
- Cost-effective helicopter patrols along more than 1,100 miles of transmission lines. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken cross arms, failed insulators, and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Any potential reliability issues identified during the inspection will be addressed.
- Inspecting distribution circuits, including transformers, capacitors, reclosers and lightning arrestors to ensure the equipment is operational and the lines are ready to perform efficiently when demand for electricity increases during the summer, typically due to air conditioning usage.
In addition, a team of Toledo Edison and FirstEnergy employees recently conducted a readiness exercise to test the company's restoration process used to repair storm-related power outages. Storm drills are becoming more common in the utility industry in the wake of severe weather over the last several years.
FirstEnergy expects to spend about $120 million in 2015 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects in the Toledo Edison service area. More than $76 million of the budgeted total will be spent on transmission-related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, a FirstEnergy transmission company.