West Penn Power to invest $160M in coverage area

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GREENSBURG – A $2.1 million substation upgrade in Greene County and more than $1.1 million for two major Washington County projects are among $160 million in infrasturcture improvements planned this year by West Penn Power in its 24-county coverage area.


The company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, said in a news release that this year’s outlay represents a $41 million increase compared to what the company invested in reliability and infrastructure in the region in 2013.


The company, which serves more than 720,000 customers, said major projects scheduled for this year include transmission improvements to reinforce the system and support economic growth, construction of new circuits, inspection and replacement of utility poles and other equipment and continuing tree-trimming work, including a special program to remove trees endangered by the emerald ash borer.


“The planned infrastructure projects are designed to further enhance the reliability of our system, which will benefit our West Penn Power customers now, while also preparing our system for future load growth,” said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power.


Of FirstEnergy’s $160 million infrastructure investment in the region for 2014, more than $23 million will be for transmission-related projects built and owned by Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate. Scheduled projects include:


• Investing $2.1 million to increase the transmission capacity of the Enon Substation near Ryerson Station in Greene County to help support the electricity demand of area coal mines;


• Reinforcing breakers at the 500-kilovolt Yukon Substation in Washington County for added protection of equipment across West Penn Power’s extra-high-voltage transmission system in Southwestern Pennsylvania at a cost of more than $800,000;


• Building a new 2-mile distribution line in the Manifold Road area of Washington to help support increased residential and commercial growth at a cost of more than $360,000.


• Installing a new transformer at a substation in Armstrong County at a cost of about $22 million;


• Spending more than $25 million to trim trees along more than 4,500 miles of distribution and transmission lines as part of West Penn Power’s ongoing program to help maintain proper clearances and protect against tree-related storm damage;


• Investing about $1 million in Western Pennsylvania to proactively remove trees damaged by the emerald ash borer, particularly those that could fall on West Penn Power’s equipment and result in service interruptions;


• Investing more than $23 million on various projects to expand the distribution system throughout the company’s 24-county service area;


• Building new transmission switching facilities in central Pennsylvania to help enhance transmission reliability and capacity in the State College and St. Marys regions at a cost of more than $10 million;


• Adding additional distribution line capacity in the Park Hills area of State College to help support new student housing and related development, an investment of nearly $600,000;


• Upgrading the Byerly Crest distribution substation in the North Huntington area of Route 30 in Westmoreland County to help enhance service reliability for more than 2,000 customers at a cost of more than $300,000;


• Inspecting about 54,000 utility poles and replacing or reinforcing about 1,100 poles at a cost of nearly $4 million. This inspection process is conducted on a 12-year cycle in Pennsylvania, and replacement work is scheduled to be completed by the end of fall;


• Upgrading equipment on 135 distribution circuits throughout the service territory to help enhance service reliability. These improvements – including installing new wire, cable and fuses – are expected to enhance the electrical system and reliability of service for 55,000 West Penn Power customers in Pennsylvania at a cost of more than $600,000.


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