FirstEnergy Corp. has proposed investing $114 million on "smart grid" technologies to improve the reliability and interactivity of its electric distribution infrastructure in its three-state service area. The proposal includes support for programs to help customers save energy and money and was included in the company's application for economic stimulus funding filed today with the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"These programs would deliver immediate and long-term benefits to customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and help lay the groundwork for widespread deployment of smart grid technologies," said Richard R. Grigg, executive vice president of FirstEnergy and president, FirstEnergy Utilities. "In addition, these programs would provide customers with innovative ways to save energy and money."

The company's application requests $57 million - or half of the funding needed for targeted projects in communities served by FirstEnergy electric utility companies. The federal support - as well as regulatory recovery of non-federally funded costs - would help ensure the cost-effective implementation of the initial smart grid investments. And, the projects would provide FirstEnergy with the opportunity to better understand the costs and benefits associated with smart grid technologies.

The proposal requests funding for test projects in several suburban communities east of Cleveland served by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI); the York, Pa., area served by Metropolitan Edison Company (Met-Ed); and a number of communities throughout the Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) service area:

  • CEI - Smart grid components, including distribution automation, voltage control, and advanced protection equipment, will be installed near Cleveland, to enhance service reliability. In addition, 5,000 smart meters will be installed - with the potential to install 39,000 more - and used in conjunction with new information systems and a special pricing program to help customers save money by better managing their electricity use, especially during times of peak demand.
  • Met-Ed - A voluntary load control program for 14,000 customers in the York area will help reduce peak demand through an integrated system that directly controls air conditioners and other customer appliances during periods of high usage. In addition, deployment of distribution automation and related technologies will help improve the reliability and efficiency of the system. All of these smart grid improvements will be supported by two-way communications.
  • JCP&L - Expanding on smart grid technologies installed earlier this year, the project will use many of the same technologies and features being introduced in Pennsylvania. This voluntary control program involving 20,000 customers in New Jersey has the potential to reduce peak load by 30 megawatts.

Smart grid technologies - such as distributed automation, demand response with smart metering, volt control, advanced protection devices and wireless security - would help improve system reliability and efficiency and enable customers to save money by better managing their energy usage.