Our transmission system, which delivers electricity from power plants to local distribution systems, is the focus of our efforts to build a smarter, stronger and more secure power grid. We launched our Energizing the Future initiative in 2014 to enhance and modernize our transmission infrastructure. Our cumulative investments in Energizing the Future are on track to reach $9.2 billion by 2021, and we have identified more than $20 billion in additional projects to help us meet the evolving energy needs of our customers well into the future.
Recent investments resulted in significant improvements in the reliability performance of the transmission system in our American Transmission Systems Incorporated (ATSI) region. Reliability improvements are expected to benefit customers in other parts of our service territory as we expand our programs and efforts to modernize our energy infrastructure.
FirstEnergy also made a series of investments to enhance reliability throughout our service area. Since 2014, we have constructed new and rebuilt existing transmission lines and substations to bolster the transmission network.
FirstEnergy’s Akron Control Center operates and monitors transmission operations across two-thirds of the company’s bulk transmission system in areas served by Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison, Penn Power, Met-Ed, Penelec and JCP&L. As one of the nation’s most advanced transmission control centers, it plays a vital role in enabling us to provide reliable electric service to our customers. Built with sustainable and green building features and practices, the facility earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Level certification. Additionally, our Fairmont Control Center in West Virginia monitors operations in areas served by Mon Power, Potomac Edison and West Penn Power. This state-of-the-art facility is also LEED certified.
Our Center for Advanced Energy Technology accelerates the deployment of technologies on our transmission system. This 88,000-square-foot facility is one of the most comprehensive testing and training centers of its kind in the nation. In this hands-on environment, our engineers and technicians can upgrade, maintain and ensure the security of the power grid by simulating real-world conditions on the electric transmission system. This facility also demonstrates our focus on safety, as it empowers our employees with technical understanding and available tools for mitigating risks. The building itself, including its size and physical orientation, was designed to minimize environmental impact.
We are committed to working closely with community leaders and property owners to solicit public input when siting new energy infrastructure, including transmission lines. Our public participation efforts include:
Presenting project proposals to municipal leaders
Making finalized project plans and line route maps available to the public through various communications, including individual landowner contact, fact sheets and project websites
Hosting open houses and soliciting input from municipal leaders, property owners and community members
Soliciting and evaluating community feedback to develop preferred and alternative line routing options
Whenever possible, we strive to site transmission facilities within existing corridors, an industry best practice that drastically reduces impacts on communities and the environment.
FirstEnergy’s Transmission and Construction & Design Services organizations are driving innovation by engaging employees in brainstorming activities through the development of an internal website—the Innovation Hub. This website is the front end of a new process developed to collect, analyze and prioritize fresh ideas that support our transmission portfolio, enhance our sustainability efforts and deliver the best value to our customers.
We also are investing in projects that create a more resilient and flexible distribution system by evaluating opportunities to enable emerging technologies. This long-term vision will enable an advanced and cohesive grid where customers can connect distributed resources, such as rooftop solar, electric vehicles and smart thermostats to better manage their energy use and enhance their comfort, lifestyle and security.
In addition to our Ohio grid modernization investments, FirstEnergy continues to evaluate and deploy innovative technologies across our service footprint to enable the grid of the future:
In 2019, we entered the fourth year of the Pennsylvania Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plans (LTIIP)—a four-year, $360 million investment program to prepare our Pennsylvania utilities for the distribution grid of the future. LTIIP is a PUC-approved program designed to maintain and improve the efficiency, safety, adequacy and reliability of the distribution system. Our Pennsylvania companies recently filed a new LTIIP for the 2020–2024 period, representing a five-year, $572 million investment.
Potomac Edison’s distribution rate plan, approved by the PSC of Maryland in March 2019, provides reliability-related capital investment in distribution automation, underground cable replacement and substation recloser replacements. The distribution automation work will focus investment on two distribution circuits per year by constructing stronger circuit ties and installing supervisory control and data acquisition-controlled devices to enable automation for switching loads and minimizing customer outages.
JCP&L received approval from the BPU for our JCP&L Reliability Plus Infrastructure Investment Program, which builds on service reliability enhancements we made in our New Jersey service area in recent years with an additional $97 million investment. This program includes more than 1,400 projects aimed at enhancing the reliability and resiliency of overhead power lines. We plan to replace existing equipment with new smart technology devices and expand our vegetation management program to address tree-related outages. Projects will use emerging technologies, including new electronic fuses and communications, to enable automation for distribution equipment on circuits and in substations.
We are developing a Standard Distribution Circuit model that will be the basis for future infrastructure investment strategies. This model provides the strong foundation essential to implementing communications systems; deploying smart devices that enable distribution automation and optimization; and empowering the safe, reliable deployment of electric vehicle charging stations and distributed energy resources.