Last year, US power producer FirstEnergy Corp. invested approximately US$263 million in 2014 in The Illuminating Company service area on reliability infrastructure projects and other work, including building new transmission lines, new substations, and installing remote-control equipment designed to help reduce the number and duration of power outages. The Illuminating Company is a First Energy Company.
Over US$161 million of the total has been spent on transmission-related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, Incorporated, a FirstEnergy transmission company.
Infrastructure upgrades are reducing outages
John Skory, regional president, The Illuminating Company, says that the infrastructure projects completed in 2014, and prior to this, are making a difference when it comes to reducing the number of outages. He adds that the results in 2014 will show that the Illuminating Company performed better than the service reliability standards established by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which they largely attribute to the work done to make the system more robust.
Some of the key FirstEnergy projects in The Illuminating Company's northeast Ohio service area in 2014 include:
• Constructing a new substation in Glenwillow at a cost of approximately US$12 million as part of a larger project that involves building a new 345kV transmission line from FirstEnergy's Bruce Mansfield Power Plant along the Ohio River to the Cleveland area to enhance system reliability.
• Installing synchronous condenser voltage regulating equipment in Eastlake at a cost of about US$25 million. The purpose of a synchronous condenser is to adjust conditions on the transmission grid by stabilizing voltage levels.
• Spending more than US$16 million in 2014 to continue work on new sub-transmission circuits in downtown Cleveland as part of a large-scale project designed to handle future load growth around the Cleveland Clinic. This multi-year project is scheduled to be completed by 2016.
• Rebuilding portions of a major substation in Northfield. The overall cost for the project was approximately US$6 million.
• Trimming trees on the distribution system to maintain proper clearances along 2,000 miles (3218 km) of power lines at a cost of more than US$10 million.
• Spending approximately US$1 million to proactively remove trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, which could fall on electrical equipment and otherwise cause service interruptions.
• Spending more than US$5.7 million inspecting and replacing distribution poles in The Illuminating Company's service area. This inspection process is conducted on a 10-year cycle. More than 45,000 utility poles were inspected in 2014, with more than 2,200 replaced or reinforced.
• Spending more than US$3 million inspecting, repairing or replacing nearly 100,000 feet of underground circuits and equipment.
Additional projects are expected to be completed in 2015, including new substations, transmission lines and circuit upgrades.
Power restoration efforts communicated to customers
Not only has the projects resulted in a drop in outages, The Illuminating Company has also made it easier for customers to check the progress of service restoration efforts after an outage.
The company's 24/7 Power Centre outage maps now display the status of crews restoring service after a power outage. With this enhancement, The Illuminating Company customers can see when crews have been dispatched, when they are working on a repair, and when additional crews or equipment are needed to complete restoration work.
By replacing and upgrading existing critical infrastructure, the utility will save money in the long run as it is conducting preventive maintenance and avoiding a complete asset failure. This will only serve to please customers as the preventive maintenance will save the utility and its customers their money. Customers will also receive a more reliable power supply as a result of the maintenance and upgrade work.
Our upcoming webinar, Delivering distribution intelligence with MV/LV network supervision and control, discusses in detail the benefits of installing distribution intelligence and how the technology can improve network planning and reduce capital expenditure, lower customer minutes lost and deliver advanced power quality monitoring.