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FirstEnergy Penn. subsidiaries undertake reliability projects

Several FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiaries in Pennsylvania have started work on a series of electric system projects as part of the company's 2016-2020 long-term infrastructure improvement plan aimed at reducing power outages in their service areas.

Pennsylvania Electric Co. has approximately $14.5 million of projects slated for completion this year, which include replacing porcelain protective switches on poles and wires with new polymer devices; replacing circuit breakers and insulators in 30 substations; equipment upgrades and refurbishing electrical vaults in Erie, Altoona and Johnstown; and installing radio-controlled switches on electric circuits. Penelec plans to spend an additional $16 million on similar projects in 2018.

Metropolitan Edison Co. expects to complete about $15.9 million of projects in 2017, which include replacing more than 750 porcelain protective switches on poles and wires with new polymer devices; adding new connection points where circuits come together; installing radio-controlled switches on electric circuits; completing major line upgrade projects on 11 circuits; replacing 12,000 feet of cable; installing more than 430 new fuses; and replacing 360 wood distribution poles. Metropolitan Edison expects to spend an additional $13 million on similar projects for 2018.

West Penn Power Co. expects to finish $21 million of projects this year, which include installing new electronic circuit breakers or "reclosers" in key substations; installing remote-controlled switches on higher-voltage distribution circuits; replacing new fuses, reclosers and wire on about 60 overhead lines; rebuilding portions of 56 distribution circuits; replacing damaged insulators, cross arms and wire on higher-voltage lines; replacing underground residential distribution cable with insulated, corrosion-resistant cable to help prevent outages and reduce the time necessary to locate and repair faults beneath the ground; replacing batteries in 15 distribution substations; and installing new arrestors.

Penelec serves approximately 590,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties, Metropolitan Edison serves about 560,000 customers in 15 Pennsylvania counties and West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in 24 Pennsylvania counties.