FirstEnergy announces “Energizing the Future” initiative to enhance transmission system reliability

FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE) announced plans to build a series of transmission projects to help enhance service reliability across its five-state service area.

The projects have been approved by PJM Interconnection (PJM), the regional transmission organization that oversees reliability in all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

FirstEnergy’s “Energizing the Future” initiative will include transmission projects – new or rebuilt high voltage power lines, new substations, and the installation of specialized voltage regulating equipment – in northern Ohio.

PJM has determined the projects are needed to enhance system reliability as coal-fired power plants in the region are deactivated based on the U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental rules.

In addition to the work in Ohio, transmission projects will be completed in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland as part of FirstEnergy’s ongoing commitment to enhance its transmission system reliability. The company estimates spending between $700 million – $900 million over the next five years on these projects.

“We have worked closely with PJM Interconnection to develop solutions that reinforce our transmission system, particularly in areas where power plants will be deactivated,” says Carl Bridenbaugh, vice president, Transmission, FirstEnergy.

“Whether it’s new high voltage transmission lines, new substations, or installing voltage regulating equipment at the power plants being deactivated, we are committed to providing ongoing communications to affected stakeholders – particularly governmental officials and customers – and will minimize impacts to property owners and the environment wherever possible as these projects are built.”

One of the key projects involves building a new 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line that will run more than 100 miles from the company’s Bruce Mansfield Plant in Beaver County, Pa., to a new substation that will be built in the Cleveland suburb of Glenwillow. As designed, the new substation will connect with two existing 345-kV transmission lines that run through Glenwillow.

To minimize potential impacts, approximately 70 percent of the project is expected to involve adding a line to existing structures. In addition, much of the remaining length of the project will involve existing property rights-of-way the company already controls.

The route for the Glenwillow-Bruce Mansfield Project – which could traverse parts of Cuyahoga, Summit, Portage, Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Beaver County, Pa. – will be reviewed in Ohio by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) and in Pennsylvania by the Public Utility Commission (PUC). If approved, the construction of the transmission line and substation will be simultaneous in order to meet PJM’s June 2015 in-service date. The public will have the opportunity to comment on this project at a series of public informational meetings scheduled in mid-June in areas potentially affected by the project.

The meetings will be held on June 18, 2012, at the Western Beaver County Junior/Senior High School in Industry, Pa.; June 18, 2012, at East Palestine High School in East Palestine, Ohio; June 19, 2012, at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center in Canfield, Ohio; June 20, 2012, at the Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna, Ohio; and June 21, 2012, at Nordonia High School in Macedonia, Ohio. Comments received at these meetings will be used to help determine the preferred and alternate routes for the project.