At FirstEnergy, it’s our responsibility to deliver the power our customers depend on in their daily lives. That’s why we’re continuing a major initiative to further upgrade and modernize our transmission system. These investments will benefit the communities we serve by enhancing service reliability across our entire system.
Often considered the “superhighway” of the power grid, the transmission system feeds electricity into our local networks of poles and wires that serve homes and businesses.
Energizing the Future involves upgrading many of our existing transmission facilities with advanced equipment and technologies that will reinforce the power grid and help prevent or reduce the duration of customer outages. Since 2014, we have upgraded or replaced existing power lines, incorporated new, smart technology into the grid, and upgraded dozens of substations with new equipment and enhanced security features. These upgrades produced reliability improvements across our transmission system. FirstEnergy will continue these investments through 2021, with planned spending of $4.2 to $5.8 billion over the next five years.
Delivering improved electric service to customers
- Enhancing service reliability by reducing the number and duration of customer power outages.
- Installing new, smart technology that can be operated remotely to help prevent some outages from occurring. Or, when an outage does occur, this advanced equipment can automatically pinpoint the location of a service disruption and limit the outage to only those customers where the damage occurred. This allows FirstEnergy to reduce the number of overall customers that are affected and shorten the duration.
- Modernizing infrastructure will ultimately lower maintenance costs charged to our customers. While older equipment still functions, it costs more to maintain, is more prone to outages, and cannot be retrofitted with new smart technology.
Image: An aerial construction worker connects wires to new transmission line structures, part of a $20 million project to address rising electric demand in Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.
Partnering with local communities
- FirstEnergy relies on local contractors for some of this work, which creates local jobs. The environmental impact of most of these projects will be minimal.
- Most of the work will be done along existing rights-of-way, or within existing substations and facilities on FirstEnergy property, with minimal long-line construction. Helicopters are often used to string new lines, which completes the work faster and reduces the need to move large trucks and equipment across private property. Our staff is dedicated to working closely with local elected officials and property owners to address concerns and provide timely project updates.
Image: FirstEnergy foresters participate in an Ohio State University demonstration project that seeks to rejuvenate declining populations of bees and other pollinating insects.
Supporting economic growth
- Energizing the Future projects are designed to increase our load-serving capability in areas of our service territory where economic growth is occurring or anticipated. Some additional work continues on new transmission facilities that energize midstream shale gas infrastructure, including energy-intensive pipeline compressor stations and gas processing facilities.
- This proactive approach allows FirstEnergy to more readily accommodate new residential, commercial and industrial growth. It also reduces lead time for customers seeking electric service at newly constructed facilities.
Image: FirstEnergy crews putting the final touches on a new $30 million transmission project in Elyria, Ohio, to meet rising electric demand driven by local manufacturing growth.
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Ohio to resolve its investigation with respect to us; the results of the internal investigation and evaluation of our controls framework and remediation of our material weakness in internal control over financial reporting; the risks and uncertainties associated with government investigations regarding Ohio House Bill 6 and related matters including potential adverse impacts on federal or state regulatory matters including, but not limited to, matters relating to rates; the potential of non-compliance with debt covenants in our credit facilities due to matters associated with the government investigations regarding Ohio House Bill 6 and related matters; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and similar proceedings; legislative and regulatory developments, including, but not limited to, matters related to rates, compliance and enforcement activity; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, maintaining financial flexibility, overcoming current uncertainties and challenges associated with the ongoing government investigations, executing our transmission and distribution investment plans, greenhouse gas reduction goals, controlling costs, improving our credit metrics, strengthening our balance sheet and growing earnings; economic and weather conditions affecting future operating results, such as a recession, significant weather events and other natural disasters, and associated regulatory events or actions in response to such conditions; mitigating exposure for remedial activities associated with retired and formerly owned electric generation assets; 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, including the increasing number of financial institutions evaluating the impact of climate change on their investment decisions; the extent and duration of COVID-19 and the impacts to our business, operations and financial condition resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19 including, but not limited to, disruption of businesses in our territories, volatile capital and credit markets, legislative and regulatory actions, including the vaccine’s efficacy and the effectiveness of its distribution; the effectiveness of our pandemic and business continuity plans, the precautionary measures we are taking on behalf of our customers, contractors and employees, our customers’ ability to make their utility payment and the potential for supply-chain disruptions; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect either our access to or terms of financing or our financial condition and liquidity; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, the reliability of our transmission and distribution system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission and distribution investment opportunities; changes in customers’ demand for power, including, but not limited to, the impact of climate change or energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting us and/or our major industrial and commercial customers or others with which we do business; the risks associated with cyber-attacks and other disruptions to our information technology system, which may compromise our operations, and data security breaches of sensitive data, intellectual property and proprietary or personally identifiable information; the ability to comply with applicable reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes to environmental laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, those related to climate change; changing market conditions affecting the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our pension trusts and other trust funds, or causing us to make contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger, than currently anticipated; labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; changes to significant accounting policies; any changes in tax laws or regulations, or adverse tax audit results or rulings; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our SEC filings. 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