FirstEnergy utilities propose smarter grid

Akron, Ohio, August 7, 2009 — FirstEnergy Corp. plans to invest $114 million on smart grid technologies to improve the reliability and interactivity of its electric distribution infrastructure in its three-state service area.

The proposal includes support for programs to help customers save energy and money and was included in the company’s application for economic stimulus funding filed today with the U.S. Department of Energy under the Recovery Act.

The company’s application requests $57 million — or half of the funding needed for targeted projects in communities served by FirstEnergy electric utility companies.

The federal support — as well as regulatory recovery of non-federally funded costs — would help ensure the cost-effective implementation of the initial smart grid investments. And, the projects would provide FirstEnergy with the opportunity to better understand the costs and benefits associated with smart grid technologies.

The proposal requests funding for test projects in several suburban communities east of Cleveland served by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company; the York, Pa., area served by Metropolitan Edison Company; and a number of communities throughout the Jersey Central Power and Light service area:

  • CEI — Smart grid components, including distribution automation, voltage control and advanced protection equipment, will be installed near Cleveland, to enhance service reliability. In addition, 5,000 smart meters will be installed — with the potential to install 39,000 more — and used in conjunction with new information systems and a special pricing program to help customers save money by better managing their electricity use, especially during times of peak demand.
  • Met-Ed — A voluntary load control program for 14,000 customers in the York area will help reduce peak demand through an integrated system that directly controls air conditioners and other customer appliances during periods of high usage. In addition, deployment of distribution automation and related technologies will help improve the reliability and efficiency of the system. All of these smart grid improvements will be supported by two-way communications.
  • JCP&L — Expanding on smart grid technologies installed earlier this year, the project will use many of the same technologies and features being introduced in Pennsylvania. This voluntary control program involving 20,000 customers in New Jersey has the potential to reduce peak load by 30 MW. Smart grid technologies — such as distributed automation, demand response with smart metering, volt control, advanced protection devices and wireless security — would help improve system reliability and efficiency and enable customers to save money by better managing their energy usage.

    FirstEnergy is an energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services. Its seven electric utility operating companies comprise the nation’s fifth largest investor-owned electric system, based on 4.5 million customers served within a 36,100-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and its generation subsidiaries control more than 14,000 MW of capacity.

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