FirstEnergy Corp. expects to invest about $166 million in 2017 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance service reliability for its customers in Mon Power’s 34-county West Virginia service area.
The projects include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system, along with constructing new distribution lines and inspecting and replacing utility poles and other equipment.
“Each year we carefully review and plan transmission and distribution projects that will enhance service to our customers, while also preparing our system for future economic growth,” said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations. “By doing proactive upgrades, we enhance the reliability and resiliency of our system and help reduce the duration and frequency of service interruptions our customers might experience.”
Projects planned in the Mon Power footprint in 2017 include:
- Replacing a 138-kilovolt (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 $2.2 million project is scheduled to begin in the fall, with the new transformer installed and operational by the end of 2017.
- 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 $2.2 million project includes constructing 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 in 2017.
- Replacing 26 sets of disconnect switches on 138-kV breakers in numerous transmission substations throughout Mon Power’s service area at a cost of about $1.3 million to enhance safety and reliability of the network. The replacement work should be completed by the end of the year.
- 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. When a fault is detected on the line, the new fiber-optic, high-speed communication wire will relay the information to breaker controls at each substation to prevent damage to vital equipment. The $200,000 project is scheduled to be completed by summer.