The Illuminating Co. to spend $172 million on transmission and distribution

Major projects scheduled for 2017 include building a new substation, adding equipment to existing substations, upgrading transmission line devices, and the inspection and replacement of utility poles and other equipment

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As part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen the durability and flexibility of its electric transmission and distribution systems, FirstEnergy Corp. plans to invest about $172 million during 2017 on infrastructure upgrades to enhance service reliability in The Illuminating Co.'s five-county northeast Ohio service area.

Major projects scheduled for 2017 include building a new substation, adding equipment to existing substations, upgrading transmission line devices, and the inspection and replacement of utility poles and other equipment.

"Our goal is to pursue transmission and distribution projects that not only enhance service to our existing customers, but also prepare our system to accommodate future economic growth," said John Skory, regional president of The Illuminating Co. "Our results show that in 2016 we performed better than the reliability standards established by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, with an average Illuminating Co. customer experiencing about one outage per year."

FirstEnergy projects scheduled in The Illuminating Co.'s footprint for 2017 include:

· Adding circuit breakers and other equipment to substations in Brooklyn, Cleveland, Cuyahoga Heights, Mayfield Heights, Middleburg Heights, Northfield, and Walton Hills at a combined cost of more than $21 million. If a problem is detected on the system, breakers interrupt the flow of electricity before permanent and costly damage can occur in the substation. The work is expected to be completed throughout the year.

· Replacing insulators and other equipment on multiple 138 kilovolt transmission lines in the Cleveland area at a cost of about $4.2 million.

· Building a new modular substation in Brecksville at an expected cost of $1.3 million to help accommodate growing electrical usage in Brecksville and surrounding communities. The substation is expected to be energized by the summer.

· Inspecting and replacing utility poles, as needed, at an expected cost of $6.7 million. The inspection process is conducted on a 10-year cycle. Inspections began in January, with replacement work scheduled to be performed throughout the year.

· Replacing underground electrical circuits at a variety of locations at a cost of about $7.3 million.

· Relocating electrical equipment as part of the Opportunity Corridor project in Cleveland and other road projects in Mentor, North Royalton, Solon and Westlake, at a cost of $1.4 million.

· Inspecting and refurbishing manholes in Cleveland's underground network, as needed, at a cost of about $900,000, to enhance reliability.

Nearly $56 million of the budgeted total is expected to be spent on transmission-related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, a FirstEnergy transmission company.

In 2016, FirstEnergy spent about $222 million in The Illuminating Co. area on hundreds of large and small transmission and distribution projects, including building new substations and transmission lines, adding equipment to existing locations, installing voltage-regulating equipment and automated controls, and replacing poles.

The Illuminating Co. serves 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.

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