EtF 2019: It’s All About Reliability and Resilience

This year’s Energizing the Future work will impact transmission lines and substation equipment across our service territories.

February 22, 2019

We’re planning another busy year for our Energizing the Future (EtF) initiative – with approximately $1.2 billion of investment. The 2019 work will impact transmission lines and substation equipment across our service territories, with projects continuing to be completed in Ohio even as major efforts are getting underway in the Met-Ed and Penelec areas.

“As our EtF efforts add more improvements in the east, work in the western parts of our service territory is still underway,” said Ron Ferre, director, Transmission Project Management. “We’re expecting to spend over $400 million on transmission enhancements in the ATSI* footprint this year.”

Nature of Transmission Projects has Evolved

Most projects will enhance the reliability and resilience of our high-voltage systems. When the EtF initiative began five years ago, though, things were different.

“While enhancing reliability was a major goal of many projects at that time, a significant portion of the work supported changes taking place in the electric generation business and local load growth,” Ron said.

Today, the situation has changed. Our high-voltage systems now are expected to withstand cyberattacks and extreme weather events, help predict when maintenance is needed and limit the impact of outages when they occur. As a result, most EtF enhancements today focus on:

  • Boosting system performance through technology upgrades and an advanced, secure communication and control network.
  • Modernizing the grid with new circuit breakers and transformers featuring advanced diagnostic systems.
  • Adding operational flexibility by increasing redundancy, redesigning older substations and installing new technology that better isolates outages that occur.

Ultimately, these investments are designed to pay off by significantly reducing the impact of transmission outages to our electric customers. For example, since 2014 we’re seeing 37 percent fewer equipment-related outages where EtF projects have been completed on lines in the Ohio and Penn Power service areas.

Project Management also has Evolved

As the initiative has progressed, the nature of the workload also has changed.

“It used to be, much of our effort went into a smaller number of large projects,” said Ron. “Now, each year we have hundreds of projects in various stages of planning, development and construction. We’ve had to revamp how we manage the work to make sure each project is well planned and executed. That’s what makes the Achieving Performance Excellence (APEX) initiative so important.”

As featured in a story in the Feb. 7 Dispatch newsletter, the APEX initiative expects to finish rolling out its new project management processes by the end of the first quarter. The initiative’s goal is to refine FirstEnergy Transmission project management processes into a more structured, consistent and efficient method of delivering projects as designed, on time and on budget.

We’re Just Getting Started

To date, we’ve replaced more than 1,000 miles of transmission lines through the EtF initiative. “That’s about four percent of our system,” said Ron. “We also have hundreds of substation projects lined up. So, we’ll be Energizing the Future for years to come.”

*The American Transmission Systems, Inc. (ATSI) system serves our Ohio electric utilities and Penn Power.

As interconnected as a spider’s web, our transmission systems comprise almost 24,500 miles of lines – nearly enough to circle the Earth – and hundreds of substations.