FirstEnergy Completes Transmission Projects to Boost Electric Reliability in Northern OhioNew facilities placed in service by June 1 in response to power plant deactivations
AKRON, Ohio, June 1, 2015 -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) today announced it has completed multiple transmission projects that will further enhance electric service for customers throughout northern Ohio. The new facilities are designed to ensure system reliability following the retirement of coal-fired power plants in the region in response to the U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental rules.
To date, FirstEnergy has spent nearly $800 million on transmission projects to support plant retirements along Lake Erie. In total, the company expects to spend about $1.2 billion through 2019 on projects related to plant retirements across its entire 24,000 mile transmission system. The completed projects represent a significant milestone in FirstEnergy's Energizing the Future initiative, and include new 138- and 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines, new substations, as well as other equipment that will maintain consistent voltage levels on the grid.
"The new facilities will provide a significant reinforcement to the electric system in northern Ohio and prepare our region for peak energy usage this summer," said Carl Bridenbaugh, vice president, Transmission. "The construction work was completed within a very tight timeframe with minimal impact on local communities and property owners."
PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, authorized construction of a series of upgrades in mid-2012 following the announced retirements of FirstEnergy's Eastlake, Lakeshore and Ashtabula generating plants in Northeast Ohio, as well as certain units of its Bay Shore Plant near Toledo. FirstEnergy has successfully energized the following projects ahead of PJM's June 1, 2015 in-service deadline:
- Bruce Mansfield-Glenwillow 345-kV Project: A 119-mile transmission line extending from Beaver County, Pa., to a new substation in the Cleveland suburb of Glenwillow. FirstEnergy significantly reduced the project's impact by placing 70 percent of the new lines on existing towers.
- Allen Junction-Midway-LeMoyne 345-kV Project: FirstEnergy added 48 miles of new transmission lines on the open arm of the existing Allen Junction-Midway-Lemoyne line, connecting several existing substations and the new Dowling substation.
- Niles 345-kV Project: Extension of an existing 345-kV transmission line into a new substation in Trumbull County, Ohio. A new 138-kV line was also installed to connect the new substation to an adjacent, existing substation.
- Leroy Center 345-kV Project: Expansion of an existing 138-kV substation in Lake County, Ohio, to support 345-kV operation, allowing FirstEnergy to connect an existing 345-kV transmission line into the expanded substation.
- New Substations: New projects also include the construction of five new 345-kV substations in Trumbull, Wood, Cuyahoga, Jefferson and Stark counties to transfer electric energy from outside the region into northern Ohio.
- Voltage Regulating Equipment: New facilities include a new voltage-regulating system at the former Lakeshore plant that responds to real-time electrical conditions, boosting or reducing voltage as needed, to maintain consistent levels on the regional transmission network. FirstEnergy also installed a capacitor bank at a substation in Lucas County, Ohio, and converted the former Eastlake electric generating units into synchronous condensers, which supports reliability by providing voltage that helps move power through the electric system to customers.
FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) is a diversified energy company 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. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
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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 speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry, in general, and the retail sales market in particular; the ability to experience growth in the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments and to successfully implement our revised sales strategy for the Competitive Energy Services segment; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission investment plan, pending transmission rate case and the effectiveness of our repositioning 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 impact of the regulatory process on the pending 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 Electric Security Plan IV in Ohio; the impact of the federal regulatory process on the 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, including FERC Opinion No. 531's revised Return on Equity methodology for FERC jurisdictional wholesale generation and transmission utility service; 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; 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; changing energy, capacity and commodity market prices including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil, and their availability and impact on retail margins; the continued ability of our regulated utilities to recover their costs; costs being higher than anticipated and the success of our policies to control costs and to mitigate low energy, capacity and market prices; other legislative and regulatory changes, and revised environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, proposed greenhouse gases emission and water discharge regulations and the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's coal combustion residuals regulations, Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, including our estimated costs of compliance, and Clean Water Act 316(b) water intake regulation; 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); the uncertainties associated with the deactivation of certain older regulated and competitive fossil units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and the timing thereof as they relate to the reliability of the transmission grid; the impact of other future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units; 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; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings, including, but not limited to, any such proceedings related to vendor commitments; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; replacement power costs being higher than anticipated or not fully hedged; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; 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; 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 previously-implemented dividend reduction, our cash flow initiative project and our other proposed capital raising initiatives; 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; 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 material accounting policies; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our announced financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; 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, and increase requirements to post additional collateral to support outstanding commodity positions, letters of credit and other financial guarantees; 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 any changes in tax laws or regulations or adverse tax audit results or rulings; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; the risks associated with cyber-attacks on our electronic data centers that could compromise the information stored on our networks, including proprietary information and customer data; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other similar factors. 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