Grid Modernization Work Underway in The Illuminating Company's Eastern Cuyahoga County Service Area

Upgrades will benefit more than 25,000 customers in the greater Bedford area
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 9:00 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 8:09 AM CDT

CLEVELAND, Nov. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp (NYSE: FE), is modernizing its electric system in eastern Cuyahoga County to help prevent or minimize the length of power outages. The work includes installation of new, automated equipment and technology in substations and along power lines serving more than 25,000 customers in parts of Bedford, Bedford Heights, Warrensville Heights, Garfield Heights, Walton Hills, Valley View and nearby areas.

The Illuminating Company Logo (PRNewsfoto/FirstEnergy Corp.)
The Illuminating Company Logo (PRNewsfoto/FirstEnergy Corp.)

"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," said Ed Shuttleworth, president of FirstEnergy's Ohio operations. "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."

Utility personnel are upgrading electrical equipment in two Cuyahoga County substations as well as modernizing the power lines that deliver electric service to customers from those facilities. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area will benefit from the installation of 65 new automated reclosing devices in the substations and along power lines to help limit the frequency, duration and scope of service interruptions.

These electrical devices work like a circuit breaker in a home that shuts off power when trouble occurs, with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a substation or power line within seconds for certain types of outages to keep power safely flowing to customers. This technology is safer and more efficient because it often allows utility personnel to automatically restore service to customers in lieu of sending a crew to investigate.

If the device senses a more serious issue, like a fallen tree on electrical equipment, it will isolate the outage to that area to limit the total number of affected customers. The device's smart technology will quickly pinpoint the location of the fault and help utility personnel better understand the cause of the outage to help speed restoration.

To determine the best locations for these automated devices, utility personnel, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, reviewed outage patterns across Cuyahoga County and identified areas that would benefit from new technology.

Additional power lines that tie together existing circuits are also being constructed to isolate outages to smaller areas and provide more flexibility in restoring service following outages caused by events such as storms and vehicle accidents. When completed, the work will help reduce the overall number of customers impacted during an outage by switching them to a backup line for faster service restoration.

Lastly, more than 80 capacitor banks are being installed to help ensure all customers served by a single power line receive the same flow of safe, reliable power by evenly distributing electricity down the line. These devices are expected to reduce energy usage for customers served near the beginning of a power line because they will benefit from lower power voltages being fed into their homes or businesses.

The work underway in eastern Cuyahoga County began this year and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022. Additional work is planned across the region as part of The Illuminating Company's three-year portfolio of grid modernization work that began last year.

Beyond the infrastructure upgrades underway in the greater Bedford area, the company has completed tree-trimming work and equipment inspections this year along nearly 100 miles of power lines to reinforce existing infrastructure and minimize the impact of damage caused by severe weather.

The Illuminating Company serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Follow The Illuminating Company on Twitter @IlluminatingCo and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IlluminatingCo.

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp.

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