New Castle News

Closer Look

April 18, 2014

First Energy to replace transmission line

NEW CASTLE — FirstEnergy Corp. has plans to rebuild a power transmission line between the West Pittsburg plant and a Mahoningtown substation.

Lisa Keck of GAI Consultants of Homestead, an engineering firm for the power company, informed the Lawrence County commissioners by letter April 9 of the company’s intent to secure state and local land use approvals and permits for the project.

The company intends to replace about 3.2 miles of the 138,000-volt transmission line. The project is in preliminary design and locations of the project limit of disturbance are being finalized, the letter states.

The letter invites the commissioners to submit comments regarding land use to the Lawrence County Conservation District and GAI Consultants Inc.

The Cedar Street substation is a key substation with multiple high-voltage lines coming out of it that feeds from the transmission system into local delivery network, explained Doug Colafella, a Penn Power and First Energy spokesman.

“We are in the process of essentially rebuilding” some of those, Colafella said. The first one will be the existing Cedar Street line, which has been in service for several decades.

FirstEnergy proposes to remove the wire spans and replace them with new higher-capacity wires, he said.

The line is being replaced to provide greater capacity to transmit more electricity, he explained. The new wires will include smart technology that will be operated remotely to prevent some power outages from occurring. It also can help reduce the number of customers affected by outages and shorten the duration.

“The project is part of an overall initiative to rebuild ... aging transmission lines in our service territory,” Colafella said.

He anticipates the project could start by late summer. Most of the work will be done within the existing easement owned by First Energy/Penn Power, and the company intends to work closely with property owners to build access roads to get poles and equipment onto that easement, Colafella said.

“We have already reached out to the property owners along that existing route to notify them of survey work and we will let them know when construction activity will begin.”

Colafella said the company does not expect any power outages to be caused by the replacement work or by taking the line out of service.

“We will bring electricity onto other lines to maintain it for our customers.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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