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$166 Million in Infrastructure Projects Planned in Mon Power Area During 2017 to Enhance Electric System

FAIRMONT, W.Va., March 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) expects to invest about $166 million in 2017 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance service reliability for its customers in Mon Power's 34-county West Virginia service area.

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

"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."

Projects planned in the Mon Power footprint in 2017 include:

  • Replacing a 138-kilovolt (kV) transformer in a transmission substation near Thomas, W.Va., with a new transformer of greater capacity to upgrade the regional transmission grid to accommodate increased output from nearby wind generation in Tucker County.  The $2.2 million project is scheduled to begin in the fall, with the new transformer installed and operational by the end of the year.
  • Reconfiguring four transmission lines in Pleasants County to by-pass a substation adjacent to the decommissioned Willow Island Generation Station and connect with another substation several miles away.  The $2.2 million project includes constructing eight new wood pole structures to interconnect the four transmission lines, along with replacing two breakers and adding a third breaker to the nearby substation.  Work should be completed by June, with about $550,000 spent on the project in 2017.  After the project is completed, a contractor will dismantle the substation next to the old plant, removing steel, breakers and other electrical equipment from the site.
  • Replacing 26 sets of disconnect switches on 138-kV breakers in numerous transmission substations throughout Mon Power's service area at a cost of about $1.3 million to enhance safety and reliability of the network.  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.
  • Upgrading communication equipment on a transmission line between a transmission substation in Parkersburg, W.Va., and an AEP transmission substation in Ohio across the Ohio River to more quickly operate protective equipment in the substations and enhance the reliability of the interconnected transmission system.  When a fault is detected on the line, the new fiber-optic, high-speed communication wire will quickly relay the information to breaker controls at each substation to prevent damage to vital equipment.  The $200,000 project is scheduled to be completed by summer.
  • Constructing an additional transmission line to serve a substation near White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County at a cost of about $1.5 million to enhance electric service reliability for about 3,000 Mon Power customers in the surrounding area.
  • Upgrading and replacing equipment on distribution circuits throughout the service territory at an expected cost of about $7.5 million.  The enhancements include installing new wire, cable and fuses.
  • Inspecting about 23,000 distribution poles and replacing about 600 poles at an expected cost of more than $1.7 million.
  • Building new distribution lines and related infrastructure at a cost of about $300,000 to serve the new West Ridge commercial development in Morgantown.
  • Constructing distribution facilities to connect a new 12-story student apartment building at the site of the former VFW post at Spruce and Willey streets in Morgantown.
  • Installing new electronic circuit breakers at a cost of about $110,000 to enhance electric service reliability for about 1,900 Mon Power customers in the Goshen Road, Booth and Indian Creek areas of Morgantown.  These advanced protective devices can selectively open and isolate certain sections of a line when problems like tree branches contacting the wire are detected, limiting the number of customers affected by an outage.
  • Relocating a distribution circuit at a cost of about $450,000 to enhance electric service reliability for about 500 Mon Power customers in the Camden and Alum Bridge areas near Weston, W.Va. in Lewis County.
  • Rebuilding a distribution circuit at a cost of about $200,000 to provide more capacity and enhance service reliability to about 250 Mon Power customers in the Baxter area north of Fairmont.
  • Relocating a distribution circuit at a cost of about $400,000 to enhance electric service reliability to about 700 customers in the Arnoldsburg area of Calhoun County, W.Va.
  • Relocating a distribution circuit at a cost of about $175,000 to enhance service reliability for about 550 Mon Power customers in the area north of Webster Springs in Webster County, W.Va.
  • Relocating a distribution circuit at a cost of about $300,000 to enhance service reliability for about 480 Mon Power customers in the Summersville Lake area of Nicholas County, W.Va.

About $13 million of the budgeted total will be for transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (TrAILCo), a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate.  

In 2016, FirstEnergy spent about $250 million in the Mon Power 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. 

Mon Power, a FirstEnergy electric distribution company, serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.  Follow Mon Power on Twitter @MonPowerWV

FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence.  Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York.  The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.  Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow on Twitter at @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor's Note:  Photos of service reliability work being done in the Mon Power area are available for download on Flickr.

Forward-Looking Statements: This news release includes forward-looking statements based on information currently available to management. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. These statements include declarations regarding management's intents, beliefs and current expectations. These statements typically contain, but are not limited to, the terms "anticipate," "potential," "expect," "forecast," "target," "will," "intend," "believe," "project," "estimate," "plan" and similar words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the ability to experience growth in the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission investment plan, including, but not limited to, our planned forward-looking formula rates and the effectiveness of our strategy to reflect a more regulated business profile; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, assessment of the reliability of our transmission system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission investment opportunities; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, the ability to continue to reduce costs and to successfully execute our financial plans designed to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet through, among other actions, our cash flow improvement plan and other proposed capital raising initiatives; the risks and uncertainties associated with the lack of viable alternative strategies regarding the Competitive Energy Services (CES) segment, thereby causing FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES), and possibly FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), to restructure its debt and other financial obligations with its creditors or seek protection under United States bankruptcy laws and the losses, liabilities and claims arising from such bankruptcy proceeding, including any obligations at FirstEnergy; the risks and uncertainties at the CES segment, including FES and its subsidiaries and FENOC, related to continued depressed wholesale energy and capacity markets, and the viability and/or success of strategic business alternatives, such as potential CES generating unit asset sales, the potential conversion of the remaining generation fleet from competitive operations to a regulated or regulated-like construct or the potential need to deactivate additional generating units; the substantial uncertainty as to FES' ability to continue as a going concern and substantial risk that it may be necessary for FES, and possibly FENOC, to seek protection under United States bankruptcy laws; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings, including, but not limited to, any such proceedings related to vendor commitments, such as long-term fuel and transportation agreements; the uncertainties associated with the deactivation of older regulated and competitive units, including the impact on vendor commitments, such as long-term fuel and transportation agreements, and as it relates to the reliability of the transmission grid, the timing thereof; the impact of other future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units and any capacity performance charges associated with unit unavailability; changing energy, capacity and commodity market prices including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil prices, and their availability and impact on margins; costs being higher than anticipated and the success of our policies to control costs and to mitigate low energy, capacity and market prices; replacement power costs being higher than anticipated or not fully hedged; our ability to improve electric commodity margins and the impact of, among other factors, the increased cost of fuel and fuel transportation on such margins; the speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry, in general, and the retail sales market in particular; the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures that may arise in connection with any litigation, including New Source Review litigation, or potential regulatory initiatives or rulemakings (including that such initiatives or rulemakings could result in our decision to deactivate or idle certain generating units); changes in customers' demand for power, including, but not limited to, changes resulting from the implementation of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins such as a polar vortex or other significant weather events, and all associated regulatory events or actions; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting us, our subsidiaries and/or our major industrial and commercial customers, and other counterparties with which we do business, including fuel suppliers; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; the risks associated with cyber-attacks and other disruptions to our information technology system that may compromise our generation, transmission and/or distribution services and data security breaches of sensitive data, intellectual property and proprietary or personally identifiable information regarding our business, employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, business partners and other individuals in our data centers and on our networks; the impact of the regulatory process and resulting outcomes on the matters at the federal level and in the various states in which we do business including, but not limited to, matters related to rates and the Ohio Distribution Modernization Rider; the impact of the federal regulatory process on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated entities and transactions, in particular FERC regulation of wholesale energy and capacity markets, including PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) markets and FERC-jurisdictional wholesale transactions; FERC regulation of cost-of-service rates; and FERC's compliance and enforcement activity, including compliance and enforcement activity related to North American Electric Reliability Corporation's mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated's realignment into PJM; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; other legislative and regulatory changes, and revised environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, Coal Combustion Residuals regulations, Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury and Air Toxics Standards programs, including our estimated costs of compliance, Clean Water Act (CWA) waste water effluent limitations for power plants, and CWA 316(b) water intake regulation; adverse regulatory or legal decisions and outcomes with respect to our nuclear operations (including, but not limited to, the revocation or non-renewal of necessary licenses, approvals or operating permits by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or as a result of the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant); issues arising from the indications of cracking in the shield building at Davis-Besse; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger than currently anticipated; the impact of changes to significant accounting policies; the impact of any changes in tax laws or regulations or adverse tax audit results or rulings; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; further actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect us and/or our subsidiaries' access to financing, increase the costs thereof, increase requirements to post additional collateral to support, or accelerate payments under outstanding commodity positions, letters of credit and other financial guarantees, and the impact of these events on the financial condition and liquidity of FirstEnergy and/or its subsidiaries, specifically the subsidiaries within the CES segment; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and other similar factors. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy or hold securities and is subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating agency. Each rating should be evaluated independently of any other rating. The foregoing factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements and risks that are included in our filings with the SEC, including but not limited to the most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. The foregoing review of factors also should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on FirstEnergy Corp.'s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. The registrants expressly disclaim any current intention to update, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/166-million-in-infrastructure-projects-planned-in-mon-power-area-during-2017-to-enhance-electric-system-300426075.html

SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.

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