$17 Million in Additional Reliability Work Underway in West Penn Power Service Area for 2016

Projects Expected to Help Reduce Number and Duration of Power Outages
Penn Power

GREENSBURG, Pa., July 20, 2016 -- West Penn Power is beginning work on approximately $17 million of additional electrical system projects for 2016 to enhance service reliability for its 720,000 customers. 

The work includes installing protective devices on wires and poles, rebuilding electric lines, adding other special equipment, and installing automated and remote control devices – all designed to help reduce the number and duration of service interruptions.

These projects were identified in West Penn Power's five-year Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan that was approved earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  Ultimately, this special program will result in an additional $88 million being spent through 2020 on targeted distribution infrastructure enhancement projects in the West Penn Power service area.

"The work is designed to benefit customers by complementing the projects we already do each year to enhance the reliability of our electric system," said David W. McDonald, regional president of West Penn Power.  "Whether it's upgrading existing circuits or installing 'smart' equipment that can be operated remotely, our goal is to make our system the best it can be when it comes to providing reliable service."

The scheduled projects in the West Penn Power service area in 2016 include:

  • Spending approximately $3.5 million to install new electronic circuit breakers or "reclosers" in key substations that can be operated remotely from the company dispatch center, providing operators the ability to restore power more quickly and efficiently than if a crew was needed to investigate a circuit lockout.  Reclosers open the line when a system irregularity is detected and then automatically reclose to check if the problem, such a tree branch contacting the line, is still present.  The new electronic reclosers can selectively open certain sections of line, which can help limit the number of customers affected by an outage.  In 2016, electronic reclosers will be installed on 26 circuits in five substations in Washington and Westmoreland counties.
  • Installing remote-controlled switches on higher-voltage distribution circuits to allow automatic and remote switching to help limit the number of customers affected when an outage occurs.  The new controls are engineered to shorten the duration of outages and to allow for large blocks of customers to be more quickly restored.  In 2016, the new controls will be installed at 45 switching locations both in substations and on overhead electric lines throughout West Penn Power's service area at a cost of about $3 million.
  • Spending approximately $2.7 million to install new fuses, reclosers and wire on overhead facilities, particularly at points where distribution circuits branch into smaller sections known as "taps."  The new equipment automatically opens up when sensing system irregularities to stop the flow of electricity, helping to limit the scope of outages and reduce the duration.  In 2016, the new equipment will be added to more than 80 circuits throughout West Penn Power's service area.
  • Rebuilding portions of 38 distribution circuits by replacing electrical components such as switches, cross arms, transformers, reclosers, capacitors and insulators to help prevent outages caused by equipment issues.  In 2016, the work, which also includes the installation of animal guards, will occur throughout West Penn Power's service area at a cost of about $2.5 million.
  • Replacing underground residential distribution cable with insulated, corrosion-resistant cable to help prevent outages and reduce the time necessary to locate and repair faults beneath the ground.  In 2016, about 1.5 miles of underground distribution cable will be replaced in Quail Acres in Washington County at a cost of about $440,000.

West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), serves about 720,000 customers in 23 Pennsylvania counties.  Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPennPower.

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 on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp or online at www.firstenergycorp.com.

CONTACT: News Media Contact: Todd Meyers, (888) 233-3583

Last Modified: July 19, 2017