FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) on Jan. 18 said that construction is almost complete on its $17.5m project to upgrade an existing 69-kV transmission line in Pittsburgh’s North Hills in Pennsylvania, with the line expected to be fully energized later this month.
The company said that it is upgrading the Maple-Pine line to meet rising electric demand in some communities that are served by its Penn Power utility, including Mars, Seven Fields Borough, and Wexford, as well as Adams, Cranberry, and Pine townships.
The Maple-Pine 69-kV Transmission Rebuild Project includes removing the existing structures and replacing them with a new set of wood poles capable of carrying new, higher capacity wires, the company said, adding that almost seven miles of wire has been installed on 120 wood structures within the existing right of way (ROW). In addition, remote control switching devices are being added to allow grid operators to assess operational conditions more quickly, the company said.
FirstEnergy noted that the project is part of its “Energizing the Future” initiative, which is a $4.2bn to $5.8bn investment program in electric transmission infrastructure between 2017 and 2021. Key factors driving those investments include replacing existing equipment with advanced technologies designed to enhance system reliability; meeting projected load growth driven by shale gas-related activity and other development in the region; and reinforcing the system in light of power plant deactivations, the company said.
In a separate Jan. 18 statement, FirstEnergy said that its Ohio Edison subsidiary will energize later this month a new $2.5m substation – which is located in Guilford, near Lisbon, Ohio – to enhance customer service reliability and help meet future electricity demand in the area.
The substation was built in less than 10 months using a standard design that was more cost effective and helped to expedite construction, the company said. The project included using precast concrete foundations, a large transformer, switching gear, and circuit breakers, FirstEnergy said, adding that animal protection devices made out of polymer were installed on key parts of the equipment to help reduce outages caused by squirrels and other animals.
The substation is connected to the existing Ohio Edison system in the region using two underground circuits that were built as part of the project, the company said. Specialized communications equipment was installed to remotely monitor operations, and if needed, circuit breakers or other relay devices can be reset automatically to help reduce the duration of an outage, the company said.
FirstEnergy said that the project is part of its previously announced plan to invest more than $369m last year in distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to enhance service reliability in Ohio Edison’s service area. More than $225m of the total was expected to be spent on transmission-related projects owned by FirstEnergy’s American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, the company said.