FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) has completed multiple transmission projects that will further enhance electric service for customers throughout northern Ohio. The new facilities are designed to ensure system reliability following the retirement of coal-fired power plants in the region in response to the U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental rules.
To date, FirstEnergy has spent nearly $800 million on transmission projects to support plant retirements along Lake Erie. In total, the company expects to spend about $1.2 billion through 2019 on projects related to plant retirements across its entire 24,000 mile transmission system. The completed projects represent a significant milestone in FirstEnergy’s Energizing the Future initiative, and include new 138- and 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines, new substations, as well as other equipment that will maintain consistent voltage levels on the grid.
“The new facilities will provide a significant reinforcement to the electric system in northern Ohio and prepare our region for peak energy usage this summer,” said Carl Bridenbaugh, vice president, Transmission. “The construction work was completed within a very tight timeframe with minimal impact on local communities and property owners.”
PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, authorized construction of a series of upgrades in mid-2012 following the announced retirements of FirstEnergy’s Eastlake, Lakeshore and Ashtabula generating plants in Northeast Ohio, as well as certain units of its Bay Shore Plant near Toledo. FirstEnergy has successfully energized the following projects ahead of PJM’s June 1, 2015 in-service deadline:
•Bruce Mansfield-Glenwillow 345-kV Project: A 119-mile transmission line extending from Beaver County, Pa., to a new substation in the Cleveland suburb of Glenwillow. FirstEnergy significantly reduced the project’s impact by placing 70 percent of the new lines on existing towers.
•Allen Junction-Midway-LeMoyne 345-kV Project: FirstEnergy added 48 miles of new transmission lines on the open arm of the existing Allen Junction-Midway-Lemoyne line, connecting several existing substations and the new Dowling substation.
•Niles 345-kV Project: Extension of an existing 345-kV transmission line into a new substation in Trumbull County, Ohio. A new 138-kV line was also installed to connect the new substation to an adjacent, existing substation.
•Leroy Center 345-kV Project: Expansion of an existing 138-kV substation in Lake County, Ohio, to support 345-kV operation, allowing FirstEnergy to connect an existing 345-kV transmission line into the expanded substation.
•New Substations: New projects also include the construction of five new 345-kV substations in Trumbull, Wood, Cuyahoga, Jefferson and Stark counties to transfer electric energy from outside the region into northern Ohio.
•Voltage Regulating Equipment: New facilities include a new voltage-regulating system at the former Lakeshore plant that responds to real-time electrical conditions, boosting or reducing voltage as needed, to maintain consistent levels on the regional transmission network. FirstEnergy also installed a capacitor bank at a substation in Lucas County, Ohio, and converted the former Eastlake electric generating units into synchronous condensers, which supports reliability by providing voltage that helps move power through the electric system to customers.