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New city power line completed

Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, a transmission subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp, has completed and energized a new power line in Altoona.

The new line provides flexibility to the transmission and distribution system to more quickly restore power to Penelec customers after service interruptions from severe winter weather, vehicle crashes on slick roadways or equipment issues.

The transmission project is part of MAIT’s ongoing Energizing the Future investment program. Construction on the two-phase project began last spring.

Phase one involved building a new 46-kilovolt line to connect Penelec’s Westfall Substation near 17th Avenue to its 20th Street Substation near the Boyer Candy Co., providing a second source of electricity for the 20th Street Substation.

Before the line was energized last summer, the 20th Street Substation and the distribution lines leaving the substation were fed by a single transmission line, which could result in lengthy power outages when the line needed to be repaired.

Crews then rebuilt the 46-kV line linking the 20th Street Substation to the Collinsville Substation as the second phase of the project.

The reconstructed line was energized in late 2020 and uses larger-sized wire to increase its carrying capacity and enhance electric service reliability for tens of thousands of customers in Blair County.

“We thank the residents and businesses of Altoona for their patience during the construction of this project along city streets that temporarily altered traffic patterns and restricted parking,” Nick Austin, regional president of Penelec, said in a statement. “Completed in time for severe winter weather, this investment will provide reliability benefits for 3,000 of our residential and commercial customers in downtown Altoona, as well as 35,000 customers in Blair County, for decades to come. Going forward, we have the capability to more quickly get the lights back on for our customers by switching to a different power source as needed.”

Through the Energizing the Future transmission investment program, FirstEnergy is upgrading or replacing existing transmission lines, constructing new lines, incorporating new, smart technology into the grid and outfitting dozens of substations with new equipment and advanced security features. These upgrades are increasing reliability and enhancing physical security and cybersecurity across the FirstEnergy transmission system.

Penelec serves about 585,000 customers within 17,600 square miles of northern and central Pennsylvania.

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