$135 Million in Infrastructure Projects Planned in Potomac Edison Area During 2017 to Enhance Electric System

Work Expected to Help Reduce Number and Duration of Power Outages
Potomac Edison

WILLIAMSPORT, Md., March 6, 2017 -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) expects to invest about $135 million in 2017 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects to help enhance service reliability for its customers in Potomac Edison's service area in western Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. 

Major projects scheduled for 2017 include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system and support economic growth, constructing new distribution circuits, and inspecting and replacing utility poles and underground cables. 

"These infrastructure enhancements are necessary to serve the influx of new residents and businesses to our Potomac Edison service territory," said James A. Sears, Jr., vice president of Potomac Edison.  "At the same time, we also are working on projects designed to help enhance the day-to-day service we provide our customers, such as replacing older underground cables and improving existing overhead facilities." 

FirstEnergy projects planned in the Potomac Edison footprint in 2017 include:

  • Ongoing work to provide electrical service to the new Procter & Gamble consumer products manufacturing plant under construction in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, W.Va.  The $8 million project includes a new distribution substation, upgrades to other nearby substations, and several power lines.  About $4.7 million is expected to be spent on work this year, with the project scheduled for completion in 2018.
  • Completing work on a new $5 million power line and substation project under construction in Hardy County, W.Va., along State Route 259 that will enhance service reliability for about 2,200 customers in the Baker and Mathias areas.  The project will divide the existing 270-mile long circuit – the longest in Potomac Edison's service area – into three shorter segments and also improve service to a nearby compressor station for a major natural gas supply pipeline.
  • Building a distribution substation in the Foxville area in Frederick County, Md., and constructing five miles of new distribution circuit that will enhance electric service reliability for about 1,200 customers in the Myersville and Wolfsville area.  Construction of the $4 million project will start in 2017.
  • Constructing a new $3 million distribution substation for the Jefferson Tech Park near Frederick, Md., to provide electric service capacity for more than 2 million square feet of commercial development.  Work on the project is expected to start in 2017 and be completed in 2018.
  • Building a new $2 million distribution substation in Montgomery County to serve residential and retail customers in the new Cabin Branch development in Clarksburg, Md.  The substation will provide needed service capacity for about 3,500 homes and 1.4 million square feet of retail space.  The work is scheduled to begin in 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2018.
  • Replacing two transformers at a distribution substation near Mt. Airy, Md., at a cost of about $2.5 million to meet increased demand for electricity in the eastern edge of Potomac Edison's service area.  The project should be completed in mid-2017 and will enhance service reliability for more than 3,400 customers, including residents of the new Preserve at Harvest Ridge housing development.
  • Rebuilding a seven-mile transmission line connecting a substation near White Post, Va., to a substation near Front Royal, Va., at a cost of about $5.4 million.  The project includes replacing about 50 wooden structures with new wooden structures, and replacing the wire with a larger diameter conductor to increase the capacity of the line.  Construction started in January, with the project scheduled to be completed and in service by early June.  This transmission system upgrade should enhance the regional grid and enhance service reliability for customers of two interconnected electric cooperatives in Virginia.
  • Installing specialized voltage-regulating equipment in a transmission substation in Montgomery County, Md., near Damascus to support voltage on the regional transmission system.  Started in February, the project also includes installation of a new breaker, air switches and bus work at a cost of about $460,000.  The project is scheduled to be completed and in service by June 1, benefitting electric service for nearly 80,000 Potomac Edison customers in Frederick, Carroll and Montgomery counties.
  • Upgrading equipment on about 266 distribution circuits throughout Potomac Edison's service area at an estimated cost of nearly $3 million.  The enhancements – installing new wire, cable and fuses – are expected to reinforce the electrical system and enhance reliability for nearly 400,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.
  • Replacing underground distribution cables with new equipment.  Work totaling more than $2.7 million is continuing in all areas of the service territory, with a focus in Frederick, Montgomery and Washington counties in Maryland. 
  • Spending $1.1 million to inspect and proactively replace or repair distribution and sub-transmission utility poles in the Potomac Edison service area.  Approximately 24,000 utility poles will be inspected in 2017, with about 400 expected to be replaced or restored.         

About $3 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 $117 million in the Potomac Edison area on hundreds of large and small transmission and distribution projects, including replacing wire on transmission lines, upgrading equipment on distribution circuits, replacing equipment in substations, and inspecting and replacing poles, as needed. 

Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., serves about 257,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 137,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  Follow Potomac Edison at www.potomacedison.com, on Twitter @PotomacEdison, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PotomacEdison.

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:  A photo of service reliability work being done in the Potomac Edison area is 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.



CONTACT:  Todd Meyers, (724) 838-6650

Last Modified: July 19, 2017