Penelec investing $367 million on transmission, distribution

"For 2017, we are starting work on several large transmission projects, in addition to the ongoing work we do annually on the distribution side of our electric system to help enhance customer reliability."

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FirstEnergy Corp. expects to invest about $367 million in 2017 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance reliability for about 590,000 customers in the Pennsylvania Electric Co.'s (Penelec) service territory.

Major projects scheduled in 2017 throughout Penelec's 31-county area include building new substations and transmission lines, installing equipment in existing substations, adding remote control equipment on circuits, and the inspection and replacement of utility poles.

"The proactive upgrades we have done over the years to our electric system are intended to reduce the number and duration of service disruptions our customers experience," said Scott Wyman, regional president of Penelec. "For 2017, we are starting work on several large transmission projects, in addition to the ongoing work we do annually on the distribution side of our electric system to help enhance customer reliability."

Projects scheduled in the Penelec footprint in 2017 include:

· Installing voltage regulating equipment at a substation in Bridgewater Township, Susquehanna County, at an expected cost of $4.2 million. This equipment is designed to help maintain appropriate voltage levels.

· Adding four 230-kV circuit breakers at a substation in Granville Township, Mifflin County, at a cost of about $5.4 million to help enhance reliability and operational flexibility.

· Rebuilding a 115 kV transmission line between Wysox and Troy in Bradford County, with about $20.5 million expected to be spent in 2017. The project will be completed in 2018 and will add capacity to the transmission system and increase operational flexibility.

· Inspecting and replacing utility poles, as needed, at an expected cost of $3 million. Inspections began in January, with replacement work scheduled to be performed throughout the year.

· Spending about $3.44 million to replace porcelain protective cut out switches on wires with new polymer devices. The equipment automatically shuts off when a system irregularity is detected, protecting the electrical equipment and limiting the number of customers affected by an outage.

· Spending about $2.7 million to install remote control equipment that can be reset automatically to allow for quicker identification of potential problems and faster restoration should an outage occur.

· Renovating multiple overhead power lines throughout the company's 17,000-square-mile service territory at a cost of about $2.4 million.

· Relocating electrical equipment at a cost of about $1.4 million for various highway and roadway projects in the Penelec area.

· Spending about $800,000 to add new connection points, along with installing new sectionalizing devices, such as fuses and automated switches, to help limit the number of customers affected when an outage occurs.

· Upgrading sections of underground networks at a cost of $1 million.

· Replacing breakers in multiple substations at a cost of about $1.5 million.

· Spending about $500,000 to replace older porcelain insulators on poles with new polymer devices.

More than $186 million of the budgeted total will be spent on transmission-related projects owned by Mid Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC. and Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co. (TrAILCo), both FirstEnergy transmission companies.

In 2016, FirstEnergy spent about $238 million in the Penelec area on large and small transmission and distribution projects, including enhancing circuits, installing voltage-regulating equipment and automated controls, and replacing poles.

Penelec, a unit of FirstEnergy Corp., serves about 590,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties.

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