FirstEnergy’s 345-kV line in Ohio ‘is on hold’

The 345-kV Toronto-Harmon transmission line that runs west from a substation in Toronto, Ohio, near the border of West Virginia, to Harmon in northeastern Ohio, is on hold, a FirstEnergy spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Sept. 3.

At this time, the plan as approved by PJM Interconnection is to complete construction of the Harmon substation and the Toronto substation in Ohio, he said, adding, “The line is on hold and is still under evaluation by PJM at this time.”

In the letter of notification (LON) pending before the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) for the Harmon substation, FirstEnergy has indicated an approximate cost for the project to be about $35m, the spokesperson said, adding that construction is likely to start in mid-October, with the project being placed in service by June 1, 2015.

In the LON pending before the OPSB for the Toronto substation, the company has indicated an approximate cost for the project to be about $37m. Construction is likely to begin in February 2014, with the project placed in service by June 1, 2015, he added.

The line was referenced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Sept. 3 as one of the key transmission projects in FirstEnergy’s American Transmission Systems Inc. (ATSI) zone.

The EIA noted that in 2012, 1,400 MW of coal-fired power plants were retired in the ATSI load zone in the northern Ohio part of PJM’s system. Those retirements comprised nearly 13% of total generating capacity in that zone, EIA said.

The company spokesperson noted that those plants include the Eastlake Plant Units 4 and 5 and the Bay Shore Plant units 2, 3 and 4.

EIA said that rather than building new replacement power plants, PJM is upgrading its transmission system to increase the use of existing electric generating capacity outside the ATSI zone to satisfy its load with an adequate safety margin.

The ATSI region faced a capacity shortfall after companies owned by FirstEnergy announced the retirement of the coal-fired capacity in 2012, followed by another 885 MW in 2015. This, EIA added, represents a 21% drop in the amount of electric capacity in the region, while the rest of PJM will remain relatively well supplied.

The capacity shortfall was the main factor driving a high price for the ATSI region in PJM’s May 2012 capacity auction, EIA said, noting that following the auction, PJM identified 35 individual transmission projects, each costing more than $5m, that could alleviate transmission congestion in the ATSI region. In the May 2013 auction, EIA said, the ATSI regional clearing price was more in line with the other PJM regions, reflecting those planned transmission upgrades.

Another key transmission project in the ATSI zone is the 345-kV Mansfield-Northfield line that runs from the Mansfield substation in Beaver County, Pa., to the Northfield substation, about 20 miles southwest of Cleveland, EIA said.

The spokesperson said that project is the Bruce Mansfield-Glenwillow 345-kV Transmission Line and the Glenwillow Substation Project, which are both expected to be in service by June 1, 2015.

In the LON for the line, the company indicated an estimated cost for the Bruce Mansfield-Glenwillow line at $133m, and in the application for the Glenwillow substation, it indicated an estimated cost of $18m, he said.

EIA also noted that a key project in the ATSI zone is the conversion of the retiring coal-fired generators at the Eastlake and Lakeshore power plants to synchronous condensers for a total estimated cost of $120m.

Synchronous condensers provide voltage support in the form of reactive power to the transmission grid, allowing the ATSI zone to bring in more power from the rest of PJM, EIA said.

The FirstEnergy spokesperson said that the Eastlake Plant unit #5 has been converted to a synchronous condenser. The conversion of the Eastlake Plant unit #4 is in process, with an expected completed date by the end of this year, he said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3113 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.