FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania utilities receive approval for infrastructure improvement plans

To help ensure continued electric service reliability for two million Pennsylvania customers, FirstEnergy Corp. units Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), Pennsylvania Electric Co. (Penelec), Pennsylvania Power (Penn Power), and West Penn Power recently received approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for the second phase of their Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plans.

The plans outline an additional $572 million in capital investments over the next five years across FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania utilities.

The newly approved LTIIP II plans are the second phase of accelerated distribution improvement projects in Pennsylvania. The first phase included nearly $360 million in investments made from 2016-2019.

“The improvement plan for each utility is designed to complement the work we already perform on our distribution network, year-in and year-out, to reduce the number and duration of outages experienced by our customers,” said Scott R. Wyman, president of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania Operations. “These investments build on earlier improvement plans and include rebuilding critical infrastructure such as overhead circuits, as well as replacing key equipment in our substations.”

LTIIP II projects will include replacing older poles, underground and overhead lines and fuses; installing new substation equipment, network vaults and manhole covers; and reconfiguring circuits. FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania utilities also will submit separate plans in the coming months to address additional replacements and reinforcements of wooden distribution poles.

These targeted distribution projects complement each utility’s annual tree trimming and vegetation management efforts, which work in tandem to help minimize service interruptions.

Approximately $123 million of the work is expected to be completed in 2020 across FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania service areas, with the remainder spent over the next four years.

Expected 2020-2024 LTIIP II investments for each operating company are:

“- Met-Ed – $153 million
“- Penelec — approximately $200 million
“- Penn Power – $72 million
“- West Penn Power — approximately $147 million

The costs associated with these service reliability investments are expected to be recovered through Distribution System Improvement Charges (DSIC)s on monthly electric bills. The DSIC charges are updated quarterly based on cumulative LTIIP investment and reflect new distribution equipment placed in service during the previous three months.

The bill impact in 2020 for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month is expected to be:

“- Met-Ed — increase of $0.64, for a new monthly bill of $139.31
“- Penelec — increase of $0.64, for a new monthly bill of $149.71
“- Penn Power — increase of $1.34, for a new monthly bill of $136.23
“- West Penn Power — increase of $0.44, for a new monthly bill of $113.79

Both LTIIPs and DSICs were authorized by Pennsylvania Act 11, which was approved in 2012 and established a process to encourage electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities in Pennsylvania to accelerate investments in aging infrastructure and help create economic benefits.

“We anticipate filing additional LTIIPs in coming years and are committed to a sound approach that will result in consistent reliability performance,” Wyman said. “We will strive to achieve maximum reliability benefits for our customers while striking a balance to minimize impacts to their bills with cost-effective projects.”

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