Latest News, WVPA Sharing

Potomac Edison to spend $135M on equipment upgrades


The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.  — First Energy Corp. will spend approximately $8 million on equipment upgrades to accomodate the energy needs of the new Procter & Gamble factory expected to be fully operational by the end of the year, officials said.

The investment is part of the $135 million this year to upgrade infrastructure in western Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle to reduce power outages in the area.

Major projects include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system and support economic growth, constructing new distribution circuits and inspecting and replacing utility poles and underground cables.

Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of First Energy Corp., serves about 138,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle.

Last year, First Energy spent an estimated $117 million in the Potomac Edison area on large and small transmission and distribution projects, including replacing wire on transmission lines, upgrading equipment on distribution circuits, replacing equipment in substations and inspecting and replacing poles, as needed.

“We’re always investing in the system — we’re always looking for ways to improve reliability for existing customers,” said First Energy spokesman Todd Meyers. “And to prepare the system for a new influx of new residential, commercial and industrial type of growth.”

In the Eastern Panhandle, the utility company is setting up electrical service for the Procter & Gamble plant at Tablers Station in Berkeley County, which will partially open in October.

The $8 million project includes a new distribution substation, upgrades to nearby substations and several power lines. An estimated $4.7 million will be spent on the project this year.

“We need to upgrade our infrastructure in order to supply them with enough electricity,”Meyers said. “We have built a new line that runs roughly 2.2 miles.”

Potomac Edison’s upgrades also take into account an influx of smaller businesses likely to follow Procter & Gamble in Berkeley County, Meyers said.

“That’s the hope — that you cluster some more businesses that will employ some more people,” Meyers said. “As there is an influx of new people to come to work these businesses, and more people move to the area, we need to make sure the electronic infrastructure is there so we can get power into the area.”

In response, Meyers said the company will be “reconfiguring the system and making some upgrades in equipment.”

One local official predicts opening the Procter & Gamble plant will draw several support companies to the vicinity.

“A lot of the people here are calling it the ‘me too’ business,” said Michael M. Covell, city engineer for Martinsburg. “With a leader like Procter & Gamble, you are going to get a lot of support industries. For every bottle they make, someone got to make a label, a box or a piece of Saran Wrap.”

Another West Virginia project is a $5 million power line and substation which is under construction in Hardy County, West Virginia, to enhance service reliability for about 2,200 customers in Baker and Mathias.

The project will divide the existing 270-mile long circuit — the longest in Potomac Edison’s service area — into three shorter segments and also improve service to a nearby compressor station for a major natural gas supply pipeline.

See more from The Journal

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address