To help ensure reliability for our customers, our Distribution Grid of the Future program is also designed to prepare our electric system for our customers' future needs. From electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to smart city capabilities, we want to meet our customers' evolving preferences and provide the infrastructure, tools and support they need to reach their sustainability goals and thrive in a carbon-neutral future.

Our vision for the grid of the future is an enhanced distribution platform that delivers customer value through a stronger, more empowering energy experience. The following Emerging Technology (EmT) programs help us research and plan investments in key technology areas to bring our vision for the distribution grid to life.






As our customers and industry shift toward a more sustainable energy future, we need an increasingly smart, safe, reliable and flexible distribution system. These attributes are crucial for supporting increased and variable renewable generation resources, as well as widespread electrification of transportation, and commercial and industrial processes.

Through Distribution Grid of the Future programs in each of the states we serve, we're implementing Advanced Distribution Management Systems, distribution automation, volt/var optimization and other smart technologies that support service reliability and enable the technologically advanced grid of the future. Visit the Energy Reliability page for additional information on our distribution grid modernization efforts and other reliability investments.


Our widespread utility infrastructure and energy expertise leaves us well-positioned to enable our customers' increased adoption of sustainable smart city initiatives. Smart energy solutions help municipalities operate more efficiently and reduce their carbon footprint while enhancing community safety and improving their citizens' quality of life.


FirstEnergy is in the process of installing smart meters in three states within our service territory, with a goal to complete installation for two-thirds of our 6 million customers by 2025.


Customers want options that help them improve the energy sustainability of their homes or businesses. Electric utility support for electric vehicle adoption, charging infrastructure and the efficient use of electricity in buildings and various energy-intensive industry processes can yield benefits for customers and the environment, including progress in achieving sustainability targets, significant emissions reductions and improved air quality. Visit the Energy Transition page for more information on our vision for electrification efforts across our service area.

FirstEnergy joined the Electric Highway Coalition, a group of electric companies committed to enabling long-distance electric vehicle (EV) travel through a network of EV fast-charging stations connecting major highway systems. We are making EV adoption more accessible, convenient and affordable through our EV Driven pilot programs in Maryland and New Jersey. Please visit our Electric Vehicle website for more information about these programs and additional information about EV incentives.


Our widespread utility infrastructure and energy expertise positions us well to enable our customers’ increased adoption of sustainable smart city initiatives, which help municipalities operate more efficiently, reduce their carbon footprint, enhance community safety and improve their citizens' quality of life.

We are committed to converting 100% of the streetlights owned by our operating companies to smart LEDs by 2030. 


Our customers are increasingly interested in sustainable electricity generation, which is beneficial for the environment and central to a clean energy future. Visit our Sustainable Energy Future page for additional information on our efforts to support customers' preferences for renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DERs).


We continue to connect customers' DERs to our grid, and we've committed to owning at least 50 MW of solar generation in West Virginia by 2025. Additionally, FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania Utilities have filed a plan to purchase electric generation supply in 2023. The proposed program includes a process for meeting state-mandated alternative energy standards and includes a separate bidding process to procure new long-term solar energy projects with a total capacity of at least 7 MW and up to 20 MW.




As energy-related choices continue to evolve, FirstEnergy is taking steps to be make information and tools more accessible to customers, empowering them to weigh their options and develop a personalized energy management plan.

We have implemented initial smart speaker functionality that enables a customer to access their current and past bill amounts. We also plan to enable bill payment, outage information, energy savings information and safety tips.




The transition to a reduced carbon future is rapidly evolving, and we stay current on new developments through a variety of initiatives.

We participate in venture capital investments through Energy Impact Partners (EIP), a global investment group leading the transition to a sustainable energy future. These investments are focused on transforming the utility industry through the development of emerging industry solutions and close-to-market utility technologies. Our participation provides insight into future industry trends and opportunities, as well as exposure to innovative technologies that can benefit our customers, our company and the environment. For example, FirstEnergy participates in EIP's Elevate Fund, which is focused on investing in companies founded or run by diverse talent that are driving innovation within EIP's core mission of advancing the low-carbon economy, including through supply decarbonization, electrification, tech-enabled infrastructure, reliability and resilience, and intelligent demand.

We also stay informed of the latest energy research through active memberships in research institutes. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is among our most important partnerships. FirstEnergy participates in numerous EPRI research programs focusing on transmission, distribution, generation, the environment and sustainability. 

Additionally, FirstEnergy works with coalitions and universities through consortiums and direct research projects. For example, we are participating in a federally funded renewable energy study being conducted by the Smart Electric Power Alliance for the West Virginia Office of Energy. As part of the stakeholder working group, we're developing a study that outlines natural disaster outage risk and the ability for strategic deployment of microgrids that provide enhanced resiliency to critical infrastructure across the state. 



Our Innovation & Digital Factory's purpose is to accelerate the delivery of digital business products using a hyper-agile model. By harnessing the best thinking from across our company and working collaboratively with business unit leadership, the Digital Factory uses analytics to identify data-driven business solutions, applies leading-edge process automation for efficiency, and creates custom-developed digital solutions that leverage the latest in cloud platform technology.

Whether it's developing an app, modeling data or automating a business process, the Digital Factory works through challenges and opportunities by incorporating input from business units in the form of Product Owners to deliver streamlined solutions that benefit employees and customers. By using design-thinking strategies to develop an innovative mindset, teams are equipped to solve core business challenges in faster and more scalable ways.

Ultimately, the Digital Factory aims to unlock value by improving our service to customers, enhancing the employee experience and driving long-term growth for FirstEnergy. 


In the spring of 2021, the Digital Factory's Automation team collaborated with our Customer Service team to create and deploy a Robotic Process Automation, or bot, to help us handle certain types of customer service web inquiries more effectively. The new bot quickly processes customer inquiries and frees up time for our customer service representatives, time which can be spent responding to more complex web requests. Our customers have embraced the efficiencies driven by this solution. Initial business estimates based on historical self-service volume concluded that 19,000 inquiries would be processed by this bot, saving 1,500 hours annually. After one year, the bot has processed 41,000 inquiries, saving 3,400 hours.

In 2022, the Digital Factory partnered with the Customer Experience team to enhance online payment options for our customers. The Digital Factory team conducted customer research and tested the new designs with them throughout the process to build a digital product our customers asked for. One main goal of the payment initiative was to increase the self-service options available for our customers. As a result, we added more modern and mobile payment methods such as ApplePay® and GooglePay™. Additionally, new features like Guest Pay make one-time payments easier while Partial Pay and Boost Pay help customers keep the lights on when finances are tight. For additional information, please visit our Customer Experience page. 


Last Modified: November 7, 2022