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West Penn Power Electrical System Upgrades to Help Prevent Service Disruptions for Customers in Allegheny and Washington Counties

GREENSBURG, Pa., Jan. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is upgrading its distribution system in Allegheny and Washington counties to help prevent lengthy service interruptions, particularly during severe weather. The work includes installation of automated equipment along neighborhood power lines serving nearly 6,400 customers in South Park, Bethel Park, Peters Township and nearby areas.

West Penn Power Logo (PRNewsfoto/FirstEnergy Corp.)
West Penn Power Logo (PRNewsfoto/FirstEnergy Corp.)

Expected to be completed in early 2023, the project is part of West Penn Power's Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP II), a $147 million initiative to accelerate capital investments to the company's electric distribution system over five years to help ensure continued electric service reliability for customers.

"West Penn Power continues to invest in new technologies and equipment to provide safe, dependable electric service for our customers," said Scott Wyman, president of FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania operations. "This project features automated equipment that will allow us to quickly reconfigure our network when a power line is out of service, temporarily switching customers to a nearby power line to keep their lights on while our utility crews make repairs. This is particularly important in this area, where trees outside of our permitted trimming areas frequently contact our electrical lines, causing power outages."

Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of eight new automated reclosing devices along three neighborhood power lines to help limit the frequency, duration and scope of service interruptions. When an outage occurs, the reclosers will allow customers served by a power line extending from a substation near South Park Elementary School through a heavily wooded area along Stoltz Road to be temporarily transferred to two nearby lines from a substation off Sugar Camp Road near Peterswood Park. Customers served by those two power lines would benefit similarly when trouble occurs on either of those lines.

Electrical reclosing devices work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs. These devices can be controlled remotely by distribution system operators to quickly re-energize lines for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers. The devices have smart capability that will allow them to sense conditions on the system and operate automatically as more automated equipment is installed on the local network in coming years.

This technology is safer and more efficient because it often allows utility personnel to restore service to customers remotely rather than sending a crew to investigate. If the device senses a more serious issue, such as a fallen tree on electrical equipment, it will isolate the outage to that area and limit the total number of affected customers by temporarily switching them to a different line. The devices can quickly pinpoint the location of the fault to help crews speed restoration.

Crews will also install voltage regulators at key locations on the lines so that adequate voltage is maintained whenever the network is temporarily reconfigured during repairs. Crews have already replaced several utility poles to accommodate the new equipment.

West Penn Power serves approximately 725,000 customers in 24 counties within central and southwestern Pennsylvania. Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPennPower.

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, 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 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor's Note: Photos of a newly installed smart reclosing device on Library Road near Bethel Park and another on a trailer awaiting installation are available on Flickr.

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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.