FirstEnergy adding $36M substation

PARKERSBURG – FirstEnergy is building a $36 million power transmission substation in Doddridge County because of the rapid development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry, officials announced on Thursday.

The facility at Sherwood is primarily for the present and future needs of the MarkWest natural gas processing facility on U.S. 50, said Todd Meyers, a spokesman for First Energy. It will also benefit more than 6,000 customers of Monongahela Power Co., a subsidiary of First Energy, along U.S. 50 in Doddridge, Harrison and Ritchie counties, he said.

The facility is on the fast-track for construction, Meyers said. The foundation was recently completed and steel is being erected on the 11 acre site.

The substation, expected to be operational in December, is being built by and will be owned by Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., a transmission affiliate of FirstEnergy. Mon Power will own a short transmission line connecting to the existing 138,000 volt line and metering equipment inside the substation.

The project supports the electric demands of the expanding Marcellus Shale gas industry besides enhancing service reliability for Mon Power customers in Doddridge and surrounding counties, FirstEnergy said.

“FirstEnergy’s infrastructure enhancements help support the increased Marcellus gas activity in West Virginia,” said Holly Kauffman, FirstEnergy’s president of West Virginia operations. “With the natural gas industry bringing new employment and business development opportunities to the state, FirstEnergy and Mon Power will keep pace by continuing to upgrade our system to meet this growing demand for safe and reliable electric service.”

Two, 4-mile transmission lines will connect the substation to MarkWest’s Sherwood processing facility.

The MarkWest plant is a midstream processing facility that separates natural gas into dry and liquid components. The refinement and separation processes typically use large amounts of electricity.

The new substation can be expanded for additional growth at MarkWest.

“(MarkWest) is among Mon Power’s largest single-site customers,” Meyers said.

FirstEnergy will invest in similar projects in the future, such as the proposed multi-billion-dollar Ascent ethane cracker plant in Wood County and other facilities that are further along in the planning, Meyer said.

Marcellus Shale development is the reason, he said. Only five years ago planners were talking about anticipated development from Marcellus Shale exploration and drilling, Meyers said.

The courthouse in West Union has been so busy from title searches, the county started placing records online, Doddridge County Commission Ralph Sandora said.

Sandora anticipates an economic benefit to the county from the construction of the substation and for the local workers hired during the construction.

“That’s always a plus,” he said.

FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. Mon Power serves 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties