FirstEnergy Corp. invested about $257 million in 2015 in The Illuminating Co. service area on infrastructure projects and other work, including building new transmission lines, new substations and installing remote-control equipment as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its electric system.
"The infrastructure projects we completed in 2015 and in previous years are making a difference when it comes to reducing the number and duration of outages our customers might experience," said John Skory, regional president, The Illuminating Co. "We expect the results will show that in 2015 The Illuminating Co. performed better than the service reliability standards established by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and we will continue our efforts to do even better."
Some of the key FirstEnergy projects in The Illuminating Co.'s northeast Ohio service area in 2015 included:
· Completing work on new sub-transmission circuits in downtown Cleveland as part of a large-scale project designed to handle future load growth around the Cleveland Clinic. The cost of this multi-year project was $67 million, with about $14 million spent in 2015.
· Installing voltage-regulating equipment in Eastlake at an expected cost of about $6.5 million. This equipment is part of a multi-year project by FirstEnergy to help maintain proper voltage levels on the transmission system as a result of power plants being deactivated due to environmental regulations.
· Installing voltage-regulating equipment in Cleveland to help maintain proper voltage levels on the transmission grid. The cost of this multi-year project was $36 million, with about $24 million spent in 2015.
· Completing construction of a new transmission substation in Glenwillow.
· Beginning construction of a new transmission substation in LeRoy Township at an expected cost of $8.7 million.
· Inspecting and replacing, as needed, underground circuits and padmount transformers throughout the service area at a cost of about $2.6 million.
· Spending about $2.5 million on a new substation in Avon to enhance reliability in the growing areas of Avon, Avon Lake and Westlake.
· Installing new equipment, such as fuses and devices that reset automatically, to help reduce the number and duration of outages across the entire service territory. The cost of this project was about $1.2 million.
· Inspecting and replacing, as needed, more than 45,000 utility poles in The Illuminating Company area at a cost of more than $6 million.
· More than $132 million of the total was spent on transmission-related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, a FirstEnergy transmission company.
Planning is continuing for additional projects that are expected to be completed in 2016, including new substations, transmission lines and circuit upgrades.
The Illuminating Co. also began using two new apps in 2015 to more efficiently assess damage to the electrical system and dispatch crews to make repairs in the wake of major storm events. Employees in the field can use this new mobile device technology to automatically enter damage information into the company's outage management system which helps restore the most customers to service in the shortest amount of time.
In 2015, The Illuminating Co., along with FirstEnergy's other utilities, also reinstated the Power Systems Institute, a worker training program that combines learning hands-on utility skills at company training facilities with technical coursework at local community college classrooms. More than 20 students currently are enrolled in Power Systems Institute programs in The Illuminating Co. area, with recruiting efforts underway for the next class that will begin school this fall.
The Illuminating Co. serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.