Going the Extra Mile

Environmental and Corporate Responsibility employees got a firsthand look at some of FEU’s critical recycling and investment recovery work during a June 12 tour of Miles Service Center.

June 21, 2019

​FirstEnergy Utilities (FEU) employees have a long history of going above and beyond the status quo when it comes to waste reduction and recycling – and their commitment continues to grow year after year.

Santo Pinzone points out the massive piles of old wire collected in the yard at Miles Service Center that will be sold for investment recovery.

Representatives of the Environmental and Corporate Responsibility groups recently got a first-hand look at this valuable, innovative work in action at The Illuminating Company’s Miles Service Center.

Santo Pinzone, general manager, Material Operations & Investment Recovery, led the tour of the operation.

Many of FEU’s recycling efforts related to equipment repair and investment recovery happen at Miles, a 37-acre facility located in Cleveland, Ohio. Two other FirstEnergy locations in Pennsylvania – Connellsville-West Side and Ebensburg – repair and refurbish distribution electrical equipment, including transformers, voltage regulators, reclosers, control boxes, capacitors and hot clamps. And Ebensburg employees can clean and recycle used transformer oil.

“Investment recovery involves equipment repair and the collection and preparation of scrap material for sale,” said Chris Trump, director, T&D Warehousing & Materials Management. “There’s a lifecycle involved. New equipment arrives at our warehouses and is installed for customers. Over time it needs to be replaced. FirstEnergy crews remove it and our team takes over to ensure everything is handled properly. We manage that process from start to finish.”

Part of the process requires sorting and handling 277,020 pounds of scrap material every month.

Each week, like clockwork, tractor-trailer operators deliver new material to more than 40 FEU line shops on a predetermined route and retrieve scrap from each of these sites for drop off at Miles. Material processors then separate the wire, copper, aluminum, steel, miscellaneous hardware, porcelain, glass and electronics into piles.

Salvageable products are fixed for reuse or sale. Wire and cable are removed from damaged reels and respooled for future use. Underground conductor cable is cut into smaller pieces by machine so it can be more easily sold or exchanged for value.

And the operation continues to expand.

Mary Jo Herman, transformer repair mechanic, makes a repaired transformer look brand new with some final sanding and paint work.

“We’re looking into selling leftover cardboard for a small return,” said Santo. “Most of our equipment – large and small – is shipped to us in cardboard boxes, which generates a lot of waste. Some locations have already been recycling their cardboard on an individualized basis, but our goal is to streamline the entire effort soon.”

Investment Recovery has also made major strides with vendor cost elimination. Recently, the team began working with a new electronic waste (e-waste) vendor that removes old electronics from the Miles site for free. Previously Miles paid another vendor $1,000 per load for its e-waste pick-up and disposal.

All this activity, from in-house repairs to recycling, adds up to significant savings for the company.

“Our net revenue goal is $1 million annually after expenses,” explained Santo. “Every little bit counts, and we’re always searching for ways to grow and enhance our operations. We work closely with FirstEnergy Environmental to weigh any new ideas taken under consideration.”

So far, the work completed has been spot on when it comes to fostering a stronger commitment to corporate responsibility across FEU.

“Investment Recovery is definitely succeeding in the waste recovery and recycling aspect,” said Doug Hartman, manager, Governance, Permitting & Environmental Services, who attended the Miles tour. “Anything we can move back into a viable material or product for another industry to use creates less landfill waste and overall environmental impact – and that’s a positive for everyone.”