FirstEnergy’s Penn Power aims to complete Hoytdale substation work by early June

Work on the Hoytdale substation in Firstenergy’s (NYSE:FE) Pennsylvania Power (Penn Power) territory to stabilize the voltage of the power grid in the area following the retirement of coal-fired power plants is expected to be completed by early June, a FirstEnergy spokesperson told TransmissionHub April 7.

The substation expansion, which began in 2015, includes the installation of static VAR compensators to help adjust the voltage based on grid conditions, the spokesperson noted.

The Hoytdale substation is in Wampum, Pa., in far western Pennsylvania, and the work followed some transmission line enhancements in the Penn Power area, including reconductoring of the Hoytdale–New Castle #1 and #2 138-kV lines, the spokesperson noted.

As TransmissionHub reported, the transmission work included replacing the wire and other equipment on the two lines, each of which is about eight miles long.

The substation project alone is expected to cost $48m, the spokesperson said.

In an April 6 statement, FirstEnergy said that the substation construction includes installation of capacitor banks, circuit breakers, transformers, communications equipment and a small control building. As part of the construction work, more than 80,000 cubic yards of rock were removed from a football field-sized piece of land adjacent to the substation where the new voltage equipment is being installed, FirstEnergy said.

The equipment is designed to respond to real-time grid conditions, increasing or decreasing voltage as needed to maintain consistent levels on the transmission network, FirstEnergy said in the statement.

The spokesperson did not identify the specific coal plants that have been retired, adding that western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio have seen several coal plants close, including some that are not owned by FirstEnergy.

With many customers using special equipment that is sensitive to voltage fluctuations, the new equipment being added at the Hoytdale substation is a cost-effective option to enhance reliability in the area, FirstEnergy said in the statement.

The substation and the new equipment is owned by FirstEnergy’s American Transmission Systems Inc., FirstEnergy noted.