As part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen the durability and flexibility of its electric system, FirstEnergy Corp. plans to invest more than $71 million in 2014 in service reliability infrastructure upgrades in its Pennsylvania Power Co. (Penn Power) service area.  This represents about a $34 million increase compared to what the company invested in similar infrastructure projects in the region last year. 

Major projects scheduled for this year include smart meter installations, circuit and utility pole inspections and replacements, the addition of protective devices and ongoing tree trimming.

"These projects are designed to help maintain our system on a day-to-day basis and to enhance its reliability while helping to prepare for future load growth," said Randall A. Frame, regional president of Ohio Edison and Penn Power.  "From upgrading existing circuits to investing in vegetation management, our ultimate goal is to continue to enhance the reliability of our system to benefit our customers."

Of FirstEnergy's $71 million infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, about $37 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by American Transmission Systems Incorporated, a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.  

The scheduled projects include:

  • Investing almost $14 million on smart meter installations.
  • Trimming trees along nearly 1,200 circuit miles and addressing Ash trees at risk to the Emerald Ash Borer at a cost of $6 million.
  • Rewiring portions of a 138-kilovolt (kV) line at a cost of $3 million.
  • Completing a 69-kilovolt line to provide several substations in the New Castle area with an additional power source at a cost of nearly $2 million.
  • Continuing the inspection and replacement of utility poles on a 12-year cycle at a cost of nearly $1 million.
  • Beginning the installation of capacitor banks and other equipment in the New Castle area to improve voltage stability.