FirstEnergy Corp. will invest $140 million in 2014 on service reliability infrastructure upgrades in its Metropolitan Edison Co. (Met-Ed) 15-county service area. This represents about a $55 million increase compared to what the company invested in similar transmission and distribution infrastructure in the region last year.
Major projects scheduled for this year include building new circuits, replacing underground cables, inspecting and replacing utility poles and ongoing tree trimming programs. In addition, other projects will include the installation of automated and remote control devices designed to enhance Met-Ed's electrical system and reliability.
Of FirstEnergy's $140 million infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, about $30 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.
The 2014 reliability projects have both localized and widespread benefits to customers throughout Met-Ed's 3,500-square-mile service area. The scheduled projects include:
· Installing new sectionalizing devices, such as fuses and reclosers, to help limit the scope of unplanned outages across the entire Met-Ed service territory. The cost of this project is about $1.6 million.
· Installing equipment to help maintain proper voltage levels. This is expected to benefit Met-Ed'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 $11 million as part of Met-Ed's ongoing program to trim trees and help maintain proper clearances. Trees are the leading cause of power outages in Pennsylvania, and Met-Ed plans to trim about 2,700 circuit miles in 2014.
Met-Ed serves about 550,000 customers in 15 Pennsylvania counties.