Potomac Edison plans transmission upgrades for West Virginia, Maryland

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FirstEnergy Corp. plans to invest more than $143 million in 2014 in transmission and distribution infrastructure upgrades in its Potomac Edison service area.

Major projects scheduled for this year include transmission enhancements, building new distribution circuits, replacing underground cables and making system enhancements in high-growth areas.

Of FirstEnergy's $143 million infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, about $42 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.

Potomac Edison's 2014 enhancements are expected to have both localized and widespread system benefits to customers throughout the service area. Scheduled projects include:

·      Rebuilding a 500-kV transmission line in Frederick County, Maryland, as part of a joint project with Dominion Power. Potomac Edison will invest $13 million for its part of the project that will enhance reliability of the regional electric grid.

·      Investing more than $18 million to trim trees and control vegetation along 2,600 miles of distribution and high-voltage transmission lines to help reduce tree-related storm damage and lessen the duration of storm outages. Some areas scheduled for 2014 include Allegany, Berkeley, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

·      Continuing improvements at the Doubs Substation in Frederick County, which includes a new control building and emergency generator, at a cost of more than $4 million.

·      Upgrading equipment on about 90 distribution circuits throughout the service area at a cost of about $4.4 million. The enhancements — installing new wire, cable and fuses, as well as replacing aging equipment — are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability for about 65,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.

·      Replacing underground distribution cables with new equipment. Work totaling more than $4.5 million is planned in all areas of the service territory, with a focus in Frederick and Damascus, Maryland outages involving underground wires often take longer to restore than overhead outages.

·      Installing new equipment at a cost of more than $2.5 million to increase capacity of the Davis Mill Substation in Montgomery County, Maryland, to accommodate accelerated growth in the Germantown and Clarksburg areas.

·      Installing new equipment at the Corning Substation in Berkeley County, West Virginia, to allow for load growth and help enhance reliability for existing customers in the Tabler and Inwood areas.

·      Dividing a large distribution circuit in the South Martinsburg, West Virginia, area to prepare for load expansion in this fast-growing area of new residential and commercial construction.

·      Replacing equipment at the Urbana Substation to better protect existing high-voltage equipment and help reduce the risk of outages in the Urbana, Maryland area.

·      Completing systematic repairs and replacing equipment on a 138-kV regional transmission line spanning Hardy and Mineral counties, West Virginia, to help enhance regional reliability.

·      Replacing distribution lines, some dating from the 1930s, in the Sharpsburg area of Washington County, Maryland, to help reduce outage frequency and duration.

·      Inspecting and proactively replacing distribution and sub-transmission utility poles in the Potomac Edison service area. About 24,000 utility poles will be inspected in 2014, with about 300 will be replaced.

Potomac Edison serves about 250,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 132,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

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