Photo by FirstEnergy.
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FirstEnergy Helicopter Crews Upgrade Power Lines in Ohio

March 22, 2023
The utility is installing new, higher capacity power lines to support power grid redundancies.

American Transmission Systems, Inc. (ATSI), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is using helicopter crews to upgrade a high-voltage transmission line in Ohio’s Ottawa County, stringing new, larger wires that can handle additional demand if other lines in the area are out of service.

The 138-kilovolt transmission line runs nearly eight miles southwest from the Lakeview Substation in Port Clinton to the Ottawa Substation in Salem Township. In addition to stringing the new wires, ATSI will replace six existing transmission structures along the route with new steel monopoles that can better support the larger wires. ATSI also will make modifications to another 42 transmission structures, installing new components and insulators to support the wires. Insulators separate high-voltage transmission lines from their grounded support towers and help maintain safe, consistent delivery of power while preventing the current from traveling through the structures.

Using helicopter crews to perform the work is faster and more efficient than deploying ground crews, which would require the creation of access roads for large trucks and equipment. ATSI began construction along the line in February and expects to complete the work in May.

The transmission line serves Ottawa, Erie and Lorain counties. With the new wires, the line will be able to carry increased current in the event of unplanned service interruptions on other lines in the area. When completed, the $20 million project will enhance the reliability, resiliency, efficiency and operational flexibility of the transmission system in the area. The project was identified in conjunction with PJM, the electric grid operator for Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison's service area, as part of its reliability planning analysis.

"This line upgrade will reinforce our transmission system and will help provide us with the flexibility we need to continue delivering reliable power to customers in northwest Ohio," said Carl Bridenbaugh, FirstEnergy's vice president of Transmission.

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