FirstEnergy’s Ohio Utilities File Proposal to Modernize Electric System and Prepare for Smart Technologies
AKRON, Ohio, Dec. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — FirstEnergy Corp.’s (NYSE: FE) Ohio utilities filed a plan today at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) aimed at reducing the frequency and duration of power outages by redesigning and modernizing portions of their distribution system.
The plan outlines a three-year, $450 million investment in projects that will create a stronger distribution system serving customers of Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Toledo Edison. The projects will help restore power faster, strengthen the system against adverse weather conditions, and enhance system performance by giving operators the ability to monitor and react to issues on the grid in real time.
The proposed projects will particularly focus on redesigning certain distribution lines across FirstEnergy’s Ohio footprint that have experienced power outages in the past. On average, FirstEnergy expects this work could reduce outages under normal conditions by as much as 30 percent or more, and speed restoration time by up to 25 percent on power lines targeted in the plan.
«Portions of our system were originally designed to serve hundreds of customers on single, standalone lines, meaning a single outage could leave many customers without power until repairs are made,» said Steve Strah, President, FirstEnergy Utilities. «Our plan would allow us to isolate damage to a confined area and allow other customers along the line to be quickly restored by rerouting power from nearby lines. These investments will help us meet our customers’ high expectations by reducing outages and restoring power faster across our Ohio footprint.»
Beyond the immediate benefits to customers, the work is needed to support future integration of new, smart technologies as well as customer-driven applications such as plug-in electric vehicles and distributed energy resources. Projects include:
- Circuit ties – Help prevent or shorten outages by tying adjacent lines together and creating multiple paths for power to flow to customers.
- Reconductoring – Enhance reliability by installing larger wires that support greater power flows from multiple sources and increase a line’s ability to withstand adverse weather.
- Reclosers – Allow grid operators to isolate an outage to the immediate area where damage occurs, which decreases the number of customers affected by an outage by allowing power lines to be divided into smaller sections.
- Data Acquisition Systems – Incorporate software that allows grid operators to remotely monitor and react to power grid conditions in real-time to help prevent outages and restore power faster.
FirstEnergy estimates that the cost of these projects would comprise about two percent of the typical residential customer’s monthly bill.
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. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
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(FES), and likely FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), to restructure its substantial 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 Corp.; the risks and uncertainties at the CES segment, including FES, and its subsidiaries, and FENOC, related to wholesale energy and capacity markets and the viability and/or success of strategic business alternatives, such as pending and 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, which could result in further substantial write-downs and impairments of assets; the substantial uncertainty as to FES’ ability to continue as a going concern and substantial risk that it may be necessary for FES, and likely 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 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, margins and operations 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; the impact of the federal regulatory process on 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, including the new federal administration’s required review and potential revision of 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 Corp. and/or its subsidiaries, specifically FES and its subsidiaries; 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. 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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.