West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has announced that its spend of approximately $110 million in 2013 is designed to further enhance the electrical system and reliability in its 24-county service area.  Major projects scheduled for this year include transmission improvements, building new circuits, replacing underground cables, inspecting and replacing utility poles and ongoing vegetation management programs.

"The planned infrastructure projects are designed to help maintain our system on a day-to-day basis to benefit West Penn Power customers now while helping to prepare our system for future load growth," said Douglas Elliott, FirstEnergy's president of Pennsylvania operations.  "From installing new equipment at substations and replacing cables, to spending on vegetation management, our ultimate goal is to continue to enhance the reliability of our system to benefit our customers."

West Penn Power's 2013 enhancements are expected to have both localized and widespread benefits to customers throughout the service area.  About $19 million will be spent on a variety of transmission expansions and enhancements intended to increase the capacity and robustness of West Penn Power's high-voltage transmission system.  Other scheduled projects include:

  • Installing a 500-kV transformer at a substation near Mt. Morris in Greene County, Pa., to help reinforce the transmission system in southwestern Pennsylvania at a cost of more than $5 million.
  • Constructing the remaining 8.5 miles of new 138-kV transmission line and adding breakers to the Whiteley Substation in Greene County, Pa., to enhance the transmission network in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The final phase of this $12 million, multi-year project will be completed this year.
  • Upgrading 138-kV substations to improve voltage support, including work at the Luxor Substation near Greensburg in Westmoreland County, Pa., and at both the Guilford and Grandpoint substations near Chambersburg in Franklin County, Pa.
  • Continuing West Penn Power's ongoing vegetation management program to trim trees and maintain proper clearances to help reduce tree-related storm damage along nearly 4,500 miles of distribution and sub-transmission lines at a cost of nearly $25 million.
  • Upgrading equipment on 60 distribution circuits throughout the service territory to enhance service reliability.  These improvements – including installing new wire, cable and fuses – are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability for 50,000 West Penn Power customers in Pennsylvania.
  • Replacing underground distribution cables.  Work totaling more than $500,000 will enhance service to the Saybrook area in Greensburg and other communities.  Outages involving underground wires often take longer to restore than overhead outages.
  • Upgrading the Byerly Crest distribution substation in the North Huntingdon area of Route 30 in Westmoreland County, Pa., will be completed to enhance service reliability.
  • Replacing approximately two miles of wire with larger conductor on a distribution circuit serving the Murrysville area of Westmoreland County, Pa., will be done to improve day-to-day reliability and position the area for future growth.
  • Replacing approximately one mile of conductor on a distribution circuit near the Butler County Fairgrounds will provide increased capacity in this high-growth area.
  • Upgrading the Clark Farm Substation in the areas of Chartiers Township in Washington County, Pa., and Houston, Pa.
  • Spending more than $11 million on various projects to expand the distribution system throughout West Penn Power's 24-county service area.
  • Inspecting and replacing distribution poles in the West Penn Power service area has begun.  This inspection process is conducted on a 12-year cycle in Pennsylvania and replacement work is scheduled to be completed by the end of fall.