FirstEnergy Corp. expects to invest about $128 million in 2015 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to enhance service reliability in Potomac Edison's service area in western Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
Major projects scheduled for 2015 include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system and support economic growth, constructing new distribution circuits, and inspecting and replacing utility poles and underground cables.
About $22 million of the budgeted total will be for transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co. (TrAILCo), a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.
Scheduled FirstEnergy projects in the Potomac Edison service area in 2015 include:
· Expanding a substation in eastern Frederick County, including installation of voltage regulating equipment, to help reinforce the regional transmission system and enhance electric service reliability for about 125,000 Potomac Edison customers in Frederick, eastern Frederick County and western Montgomery County. The project is scheduled to be completed and operational in October, with about $20 million expected to be spent on the project this year.
· Replacing the wire on three transmission lines at a cost of more than $6 million, including about 14 miles of a line between Milleville and Old Chapel substations; three miles of a line between Bartonville and Stephenson substations; and two miles on another line between Stephenson and Stonewall substations. The work will help reinforce the transmission system in Jefferson County, W.Va., benefitting about 26,000 customers.
· Upgrading equipment on about 260 distribution circuits throughout Potomac Edison's service area at an estimated cost of $8.3 million. The enhancements — installing new wire, cable and fuses — are expected to reinforce the electrical system and enhance reliability for nearly 200,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.
· Enhancing the reliability of electric service for more than 5,000 customers in eastern Frederick County, southwestern Carroll County and western Howard County by constructing a new 3.5-mile electric line connecting substations in Frederick County. The cost of the project is expected to be more than $5 million and is scheduled to be completed and operational by the end of the year.
· Reconductoring five miles of an existing line with heavier wire to enhance electric service reliability for more than 1,400 customers in New Windsor, Md. The estimated $1 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
· Installing a new, one-mile distribution line in Clarksburg, Md., at an estimated cost of about $600,000 to provide additional capacity to serve new customers in the Cabin Branch subdivision and commercial area, which includes commercial property located south of I-270 at Route 121 in Montgomery County.
· Building a new distribution line in Hampshire County, W.Va., at a cost of about $300,000, to enhance service reliability for more than 2,000 customers in the north-central section of the county.
· 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 Montgomery counties in Maryland.
· Spending $2 million to inspect and proactively replace distribution and sub-transmission utility poles in the Potomac Edison service area. About 36,000 utility poles will be inspected in 2015, with about 250 expected to be replaced.