Illuminating Company of Ohio upgrading infrastructure to benefit more than 25,000 customers

Published on November 16, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Ohio customers of the Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., will soon benefit from the modernization of infrastructure in eastern Cuyahoga County, which aims to provide new, automated equipment and technology to substations and power lines in the region.

In all, the company estimates more than 25,000 customers in the greater Bedford area will notice improvements. The company seeks to improve its systems to cut the quantity and duration of power outages, so its workers are upgrading electric equipment in two substations in addition to upgrading the lines running from those facilities. In all, 65 automated reclosing devices will be installed to this end, essentially adding circuit breakers to specific points capable of automatically shutting off power during trouble or reenergizing a substation or line to keep power flowing.

“While we cannot eliminate the possibility of outages occurring due to reasons out of our control, like severe weather, we can take steps to minimize the impact of service interruptions when they do occur, often limiting them to just a brief or momentary outage,” Ed Shuttleworth, president of FirstEnergy’s Ohio operations, said. “This work builds upon system upgrades that were completed in the area earlier this year that have helped reduce the frequency and length of power outages for many customers in Solon, Chagrin Falls, and Bedford Heights.”

Reclosers added to the area will make it safer and more efficient for utility personnel to restore service. It will cut the number of crews the company must send to investigate issues. They will also isolate outages to limit the total number of affected customers during more serious events, such as downed trees, and complement additional power lines added to tie existing circuits together and create greater flexibility within the grid system. With the addition of backup lines, service can be restored for more people quicker.

The Illuminating Company’s workers will add more than 80 capacitor banks for customers serviced by a single power line. These banks will allow for more evenly distributed electricity and reduce energy usage for customers at the beginning of a power line, as they are traditionally fed more voltage. All of this is being paired with tree-trimming work and equipment inspections along nearly 100 miles of power lines.

Work is expected to finish in the first half of 2022.