FirstEnergy Corp. has announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly transmission control center in Akron. The highly secure facility will be built at the company's West Akron Complex, an existing 150-acre site that already houses an Ohio Edison service center, a FirstEnergy call center, and a large office building where several company subsidiaries are based.
While preliminary site preparation work is being done this fall, groundbreaking for the 70,000-square-foot facility is expected to occur in the spring of 2013, with planned completion of construction by the end of the year. The new "Akron Control Center," as it will be known, is expected to cost approximately $45 million.
"The new Akron Control Center is designed to make our current high level of transmission service reliability even better," said Charles E. Jones, Jr., senior vice president and president, FirstEnergy Utilities. "In addition, we will utilize high-performance, environmentally friendly design, construction and operational options for this new building."
The Akron Control Center will feature advanced computer systems to monitor electrical grid reliability in various geographic areas of the country where FirstEnergy has operations. Once operational, the new Akron Transmission Control Center will oversee and monitor transmission operations in areas served by FirstEnergy's Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison, Pennsylvania Power, Metropolitan Edison, Pennsylvania Electric Company and Jersey Central Power & Light utilities. In addition, FirstEnergy's Fairmont, W. Va., Transmission Control Center will continue to monitor transmission operations in areas served by the company's Mon Power, Potomac Edison and West Penn Power utilities.
The new facility will replace the company's existing Ohio Transmission Control Center located in Wadsworth, Ohio, which will be used as a back-up and training facility. Most of the 112 employees who currently work in Wadsworth will be transferred to Akron in stages as the new facility is completed.
FirstEnergy expects to submit this project to be considered for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is an internationally recognized third-party green building certification system that recognizes buildings that have met the highest possible green building standards and verifies a project's level of environmental responsibility and ability to provide occupants with a healthy place to live and work.
If approved, the Akron Control Center would be FirstEnergy's third major facility to receive LEED certification. In 2009, the company's West Akron Campus received Gold Level LEED status, making it one of the largest such green office buildings in Ohio; and in 2011, the company's new West Virginia Operations Headquarters, in Fairmont, W. Va., received Certified LEED status.
The Akron Control Center is being designed by Akron, Ohio-based Braun & Steidl Architects. Fairlawn, Ohio-based Welty Building Company, which previously served as construction manager for FirstEnergy's West Akron Campus, also will be construction manager for this project. In addition, GPD, of Akron, is providing electrical/mechanical engineering services and Thorson Baker & Associates, of Richfield, Ohio, is doing site development and structural engineering.