Construction has begun on a new FirstEnergy Corp. transmission substation near Burgettstown, Pa., to help meet the increased electrical usage of the area's expanding Marcellus Shale gas industry. The project also will reinforce the regional transmission system which is expected to benefit more than 40,000 West Penn Power customers in Allegheny and Washington counties.
Budgeted at approximately $40 million, the project will support two natural gas processing facilities being developed in the area projected to use more electricity annually than approximately 100,000 homes.
Construction crews are building foundations and raising steel structures for the new substation located in Smith Township in Washington County, with part of the facility expected to be operational by the end of the year. The project also includes erecting a new transmission line to connect the new substation to an existing transmission line nearby.
Another key aspect of the project is the installation of specialized voltage-regulating equipment designed to respond to real-time electrical conditions, boosting or reducing voltage as needed to maintain consistent levels on the regional transmission network. Slated for completion in mid-2017, that work involves installing capacitor banks, circuit breakers, communications equipment, a modular control building and two large transformers manufactured in Wisconsin that each weigh nearly 280,000 pounds.
"FirstEnergy's infrastructure enhancements continue to help support natural gas activity in western Pennsylvania, said David W. McDonald, regional president of West Penn Power. "This project also will benefit existing customers by providing additional capacity and voltage support to our regional transmission network, especially commercial and industrial customers using specialized equipment sensitive to voltage fluctuations."
The project is part of FirstEnergy's plans to invest more than $200 million in 2016 in the West Penn Power area to help enhance service reliability. Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (TrAILCo), a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate, will build and own the new substation.