FirstEnergy Corp. said Wednesday it plans to spend nearly $100 million, or about 25 percent more than it normally spends, on infrastructure upgrades this year within the service territory of its Toledo Edison subsidiary.
Part of the extra $25 million will be used on a new, 48-mile-long, 345-kilovolt high voltage power line and substation that will wind its way through four northwest Ohio counties and terminate in Sylvania Township in western Lucas County.
“I think it’s significant that the [Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] now tells us that we are now the most reliable public utility in Ohio,” said Chris Eck, a spokesman at FirstEnergy’s headquarters in Akron.
Mr. Eck said the reliability upgrades scheduled for this year include the new substation, which will be in Wood County’s Middleton Township north of Bowling Green, transmission lines and distribution circuits, transformer additions at two substations, inspections and replacement of overhead and underground circuits and utility poles as needed, and ongoing tree trimming.
Linda Moss, regional president of Toledo Edison, said maintaining the utility’s infrastructure has helped Toledo Edison earn a service record that makes it the most reliable public electric utility in Ohio during the last several years. “These investments have paid off for our customers, reducing the number and length of service interruptions across our service area, and our plan for 2014 is to continue improving our system,” she said.
About $59 million of the $100 million budget will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by American Transmission Systems Inc., a FirstEnergy transmission company.
Broken down, the Toledo Edison budget will allocate:
● $18 million for initial construction of the 345-kilovolt line in Middleton Township. The line will be completed in 2015.
● $14 million for work on the 48-mile line to connect it to several substations.
● $12 million to add transformers at area substations to increase their capacity.
● $3 million to replace and upgrade equipment in several substations to increase reliability and reduce downtime.
● $3 million to inspect and replace utility poles in Clyde, Fremont, Defiance, Green Springs, Swanton, and Toledo.
In addition, the utility will spend unspecified amounts on several other projects.
It plans to replace and upgrade electrical equipment and vault tops in downtown Toledo’s underground electrical network.
It will upgrade equipment on distribution circuits in Toledo, Northwood, Weston, and Woodville.
The utility will also continue its ongoing tree-trimming program, operating in 2014 in Defiance, Maumee, Perrysburg, Rossford, Sylvania, and Toledo.
It also will install a 138-kilovolt line in Troy Township in Wood County to accommodate increasing power usage.
Lastly, it will spend money to relocate and upgrade Toledo Edison transmission and distribution facilities as part of the city of Toledo’s Dorr Street widening project and the Ohio Department of Transportation’s McCord Road underpass/roundabout project in Lucas County.
— Jon Chavez