FirstEnergy has completed service reliability upgrades in its Cleveland Electric Illuminating (CEI) north-east Ohio service territory with an investment of around $151m in 2013.

As part of the upgrade works, the company has completed a new 138kV transmission line, installed smart grid technology, rebuilt and upgraded circuits, and inspected and replaced utility poles.

Owned by American Transmission Systems, an affiliate of CEI, the transmission line project in Geauga County is worth a total cost of $30m, of which $10m was spent in 2013 to enhance service reliability and provide for future load growth.

"The company has completed a new 138kV transmission line, installed smart grid technology, rebuilt and upgraded circuits, and inspected and replaced utility poles."

In 2013, the company invested more than $23m to start work on a major project to upgrade the distribution system in Cleveland near the Cleveland Clinic, including the start of construction on a new substation and installation of new underground circuits.

The company has spent around $20m to install smart grid technology in the Geauga County area, including advanced sectionalising equipment to remotely isolate and restore outages.

FirstEnergy has completed vegetation management work along nearly 2,200 miles of electrical lines with an investment of approximately $13m and has spent more than $1.5m to proactively remove 1,200 trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer in north-east Ohio.

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The company has inspected and replaced utility poles, underground circuits and overhead circuits in the CEI service area at a total cost of $15.3m, and relocated switching equipment from a substation in Wickliffe to another CEI substation nearby at a cost of $3m.

Additionally, the company has started providing a free smartphone app and text alerts for outage and account management in 2013, providing customers with more information and enhanced flexibility.

CEI regional president John Skory said the system-wide infrastructure enhancements the company completed in 2013, complemented by the work being done by its employees, helped reduce the average number of outages customers experienced compared to previous years.

"In addition, when an outage did occur it was, on average, for a shorter period of time. These projects help us enhance day-to-day service reliability and maintain our system’s capability to handle future load growth," said Skory.