FirstEnergy to invest about $166m this year in Mon Power infrastructure projects

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) on March 20 said that it expects to invest about $166m this year on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance service reliability for its customers in Mon Power’s West Virginia service area.

The company said that those projects include:

  • Replacing a 138-kV transformer in a transmission substation near Thomas, W.Va., with a new transformer of greater capacity to upgrade the regional transmission grid to accommodate increased output from nearby wind generation in Tucker County. The $2.2m project is scheduled to begin in the fall, with the new transformer operational by the end of the year
  • Building an additional transmission line to serve a substation near White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County at a cost of about $1.5m to enhance electric service reliability for about 3,000 customers
  • Upgrading communication equipment on a transmission line between a transmission substation in Parkersburg, W.Va., and an AEP transmission substation in Ohio across the Ohio River to more quickly operate protective equipment in the substations and enhance the reliability of the interconnected transmission system
  • Upgrading and replacing equipment on distribution circuits throughout the service territory at an expected cost of about $7.5m; the enhancements include installing new wire, cable, and fuses
  • Reconfiguring four transmission lines in Pleasants County to by-pass a substation adjacent to the decommissioned Willow Island generation station and connect with another substation several miles away. The $2.2m project includes building eight new wood pole structures to interconnect the four transmission lines, along with replacing two breakers and adding a third breaker to the nearby substation. Work should be completed by June, with about $550,000 spent on the project this year

The company said that about $13m of the budgeted total will be for transmission-related projects owned by its transmission affiliate, Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company.

In other Mon Power news, FirstEnergy, in a March 7 statement, said that Mon Power and Potomac Edison have filed a plan seeking regulatory approval to acquire the Pleasants Power Station in Willow Island, W.Va., as the least-cost source to meet a steadily increasing capacity shortfall in the companies’ West Virginia service areas.

If the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and FERC approve the purchase, then monthly bills for typical Mon Power and Potomac Edison West Virginia residential customers using 1,000 kWh of electricity per month would drop about $1 per month, the company said.

To address future capacity needs, a competitive request for proposals (RFP) was implemented, and after evaluating the proposals, an independent consultant recommended to Mon Power the purchase of Pleasants as the most economical option, the company said. At a cost of $195m, the proposed acquisition of Pleasants from FirstEnergy affiliate Allegheny Energy Supply is less expensive than any other bid, the company said.

The Pleasants plant capacity is about 1,300 MW, FirstEnergy said, adding that while the RFP also requested up to 100 MW of demand response resources, no such proposals were received.

In separate March 7 statements, FirstEnergy said that it is investing about $975m in infrastructure projects this year to enhance and strengthen the electric system in the Pennsylvania Electric Company, Metropolitan Edison, West Penn Power, and Pennsylvania Power service territories.

On March 6, FirstEnergy said that it plans to invest about $1bn in 2017 to enhance and strengthen the electric systems in the Ohio Edison, Jersey Central Power & Light, The Illuminating Company, and Potomac Edison service areas.

Also, FirstEnergy on March 2 said that it expects to invest $113m this year on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance reliability in Toledo Edison’s western Ohio service territory.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3235 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.