FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- FirstEnergy Corp. said Monday it will spend $60 million this year to upgrade and improve the reliability of its electrical system for the 34 West Virginia counties served by its Mon Power subsidiary.The projects will improve day-to-day service and allow for future growth, said Holly Kauffman, president of West Virginia operations for Ohio-based FirstEnergy. They're already part of Mon Power's rates, the company said, so there is no impact on bills for its 385,000 customers.More than $11 million will go toward expanding the distribution system to new residential and commercial customers in the region, Kauffman said, while another $7 million will fund improvements to the high-voltage transmission system.
Other major projects include the $3 million installation of a second transformer at the Miracle Run Substation near Morgantown to add capacity and improve reliability in Monongalia County.Another $3 million will go toward inspecting and replacing distribution poles, a process conducted on a 12-year cycle in the state. That work should be completed before winter.FirstEnergy also plans to replace equipment at its Weirton Substation at a cost of more than $700,000 and will spend more than $1.1 million replacing other equipment throughout the service area to improve reliability.Kauffman said crews will also continue work cutting back tree limbs and other vegetation that can snag lines during storms like last year's violent derecho windstorm and Superstorm Sandy. Some of the areas targeted for that include Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Kingwood, Lewisburg, Morgantown and Parkersburg.