Penelec to spend $105 million on electric system reliability

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Pennsylvania Electric Co. (Penelec), a unit of FirstEnergy Corp. (FE), is spending about $105 million in 2013 to expand and strengthen its existing infrastructure in its 31-county service territory.

Major projects scheduled for this year include building new or upgrading existing distribution circuits, ongoing vegetation management programs and inspecting and replacing utility poles. In addition, other projects will include the installation of automated and remote control devices designed to enhance Penelec's electric system and reliability.

Penelec's 2013 reliability projects are expected to have both localized and widespread benefits to customers throughout its 17,000 square mile service area. The scheduled projects include:

·      Upgrading distribution circuit equipment by installing new sectionalizing devices, such as fuses and reclosers, to help limit the scope of outages across the entire Penelec service territory. The cost of this project is about $28 million.

·      Installing radio controlled switches that can be operated remotely from the company dispatch center, giving our system operators the ability to restore power quickly and efficiently.

·      Installing equipment to help maintain proper voltage levels. This is expected to benefit Penelec's industrial and large commercial customers that operate large motors, drives and other machinery.

·      Inspecting and replacing utility poles. This inspection process is conducted on a 12-year cycle. Inspections began in January, with replacement work scheduled to be completed throughout the fall.

·      Spending about $19 million as part of Penelec's ongoing vegetation management program to trim trees and maintain proper clearances to protect against tree-related storm damage. Trees are the leading cause of power outages in Pennsylvania.

Penelec serves about 600,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties.

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