Work Underway to Upgrade Electric System in Western Pennsylvania

Upgrades will benefit more than 26,000 customers in FirstEnergy Pennsylvania Electric Company’s West Penn Rate District
Recloser Closeup

GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania – FirstEnergy Pennsylvania Electric Company (FE PA ), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), doing business as West Penn Rate District (West Penn), is installing automated reclosing devices and electronic controllers in distribution substations serving more than 26,000 customers in parts of Clarion, Washington and Westmoreland counties. The work is designed to help prevent lengthy service interruptions, particularly during severe weather.

Scott Wyman, President of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania Operations: “Substation upgrades play a major role in preventing power outages because they supply the electricity that flows across our local electric system and powers homes and businesses throughout West Penn’s service area. This important work is part of FE PA’s Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan II, a $147 million initiative that will accelerate investments in our system over five years to help ensure continued reliable electric service for our customers.”  

Substation electricians are upgrading electrical equipment in three substations in Westmoreland County, one substation in Clarion County and one substation in Washington County. Thousands of homes and businesses will benefit from the installation of new, smart automated reclosing devices and electronic controllers that will help limit the frequency, duration and extent of service interruptions. Some of the new equipment is already in service, and the remainder of equipment is expected to be installed and operational by mid-year.

Automated recloser devices:

  • Work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs, with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a substation or power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers.
  • Are safer and more efficient because they often allow utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers instead of sending a crew to investigate.
  • Isolate the outage to that area and limit the total number of affected customers if the device senses a more serious issue, like a fallen tree on electrical equipment.
  • Quickly pinpoint the location of the fault and help utility personnel better understand the cause of the outage to help speed restoration.

Electronic controllers allow distribution system operators to monitor and remotely control substation reclosers that do not have the capability to operate automatically.

Watch a video that explains how smart grid technology works, including reclosers.

Communities that will benefit from the upgraded equipment include:

  • Clarion County: Clarion, Strattanville, Williamsburg
  • Washington County: California, Centerville
  • Westmoreland County: Adamsburg, Alverton, Bridgeport, Darlington, Herminie, Laughlintown, Ligonier Township, Mt. Pleasant, Sewickley Township 

West Penn encompasses approximately 737,000 customers in 24 counties within central and southwestern Pennsylvania. Follow West Penn on X, formerly known as Twitter, @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving more than six million customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at and follow FirstEnergy on X, formerly known as Twitter, @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor’s Note: Photos the newly installed automated substation equipment are available for download on Flikr.

News Media Contact: Todd Meyers, (724) 838-6650; Investor Contact: Irene Prezelj, (330) 384-3859

Last Modified: February 26, 2024