FirstEnergy Transmission Project Underway in Altoona, Pa.

|Jul 14|magazine8 min read

READING, Pa., July 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing Energizing the Future investment program, Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission (MAIT), a transmission subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), has begun construction of a new transmission line in Altoona, Pa. The new line will provide flexibility to the transmission and distribution system to quickly restore power to customers after service interruptions resulting from storms, vehicle accidents or equipment issues.

The new 46-kilovolt (kV) line linking Penelec's Westfall Substation near 17th Avenue to its 20th Street Substation near Boyer Candy will provide a second source of electricity for the 20th Street Substation. At present, the 20th Street Substation and the distribution lines leaving the substation are fed by a lone transmission line, which could result in lengthy power outages if repairs were required on that line.

"This project will yield immediate benefits for about 3,000 of our residential and commercial customers in the downtown area, including the Altoona Area Senior/Junior High School Complex, UPMC Station Medical Center, Jaffa Mosque and the Railroaders Museum," said Nick Austin, regional president of Penelec. "Rather than having to wait until repairs are completed when there is a problem, we will have the capability to quickly get the lights back on for our customers by temporarily switching to a different power source."

The new transmission line will be placed primarily on wood poles ranging from 70 to 90 feet tall and largely follow an existing distribution line corridor. Where the line turns and space is insufficient for guy wires, construction crews will erect self-supporting steel poles.  The existing poles carrying the distribution circuit will be demolished and the circuit will be moved onto the same poles carrying the new transmission line.

A drilling contractor has been working to excavate holes and pour foundations for the poles for the past month. Crews are now setting poles, and the work is expected to be complete in mid-August. The one-mile line will cost about $4 million.

This summer, crews will also begin rebuilding the existing 46-kV line connecting the 20th Street Substation to the Collinsville Substation at a cost of approximately $4 million. A larger wire size will be utilized to increase the carrying capacity of the line and enhance electric service reliability for approximately 35,000 Penelec customers in Blair County. This section is scheduled to be completed by October.

Through the Energizing the Future transmission investment program, FirstEnergy is upgrading or replacing existing transmission lines, constructing new lines, incorporating new, smart technology into the grid, and outfitting dozens of substations with new equipment and advanced security features. These upgrades are increasing reliability across the FirstEnergy transmission system.   

Penelec serves approximately 585,000 customers within 17,600 square miles of northern and central Pennsylvania. Follow Penelec on Twitter @Penelec and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PenelecElectric.

FirstEnergy is 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. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,500 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor's Note:  Photos of crews building the new line are available for download on Flickr.

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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.