FirstEnergy powering up infrastructure efforts

PARKERSBURG — FirstEnergy Corp. will invest $189 million in 2018 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to enhance service reliability and meet future economic growth for its customers in Monongahela Power’s 34-county service area in West Virginia.

The projects include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system, constructing distribution lines and inspecting and replacing utility poles and other equipment.

Two projects cited by the company are in this area.

The company will install a distribution circuit to enhance electric service reliability for about 2,000 customers in the West Union area of Doddridge County at a cost of about $350,000.

A half-mile transmission line will be built connecting an existing line that runs from Spencer to Summersville to a transmission switching substation that will be constructed by AEP near Linden Road in Roane County. The project is designed to enhance service reliability for customers of both utilities.

About $300,000 will be spent in 2018 for engineering and siting work, as well as right-of-way clearing. Construction of the $1.9 million project is expected to start in 2019.

“Each year we carefully review and plan transmission and distribution projects that will enhance service to our customers, while also preparing our system for future economic growth,” said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations. “By doing proactive upgrades, we enhance the reliability and resiliency of our system and help reduce the duration and frequency of service interruptions our customers might experience.”

Other work includes:

* Inspecting about 40,000 distribution poles and replacing and reinforcing about 800 poles at an expected cost of more than $2 million.

* Replacing five sets of disconnect switches on 138-kilovolt circuit breakers in transmission substations throughout Mon Power’s service area at a cost of about $140,000. The large switches are used by substation electricians to manually disconnect the substations from the grid so inspections, upgrades and maintenance can be completed safely. The replacement work should be completed by the end of the year.

About $9 million of the budgeted total will be for transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company, a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.

Mon Power, a FirstEnergy electric distribution company, serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.