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FirstEnergy Corp. (FE - Analyst Report) continues to advance with its large-scale infrastructure enhancement ventures. The company completed a new transmission line and a substation in Armstrong County, Pa. This new transmission line and substation will deliver reliable power services to its West Penn customers in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland provinces.

The substation and the transmission line received approval from the regional transmission regulatory body – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland Interconnection, LLC (“PJM”).

As part of a $31 million infrastructure initiative, the project entailed building a 345 Kilovolt (KV) substation adjacent to FirstEnergy’s idled Armstrong Power Plant. The key component in the overall construction process was the installation of a large transformer that converts the power from 345-kV to 138-kV while moving along the transmission system.

Moreover, a separate control room was constructed comprising transmission controls earlier situated at the Armstrong Plant. Also, four new circuit breakers were added to the existing substation located on the active plant property. In addition, the project involved creating a new 1.6 mile portion of the 345 KV line linking the new substation to a current transmission line operating between Homer City and Handsome Lake.

FirstEnergy has been proactively shelling out money in projects aimed at strengthening its transmission capabilities since last year. The company further intends to take a substantial leap forward with the modernization plans and has already directed a bulk of its capital spending to refurbishment of the utility-scale infrastructures.

The company expects to invest roughly $4.2 billion on expanding its transmission coverage for the period between 2014 and 2017. Currently, FirstEnergy’s asset development efforts in its service territories are in full swing. The company announced the near completion of a new 69 KV transmission line and reconstruction of another that will connect the Reading and Muhlenberg Township substations in Berks County.

FirstEnergy is poised to benefit from its numerous upgrade initiatives that will boost service quality and lead to retention of a healthy customer footprint. Meanwhile, strong PJM auction prices in 2014 compared to 2013 will further act as tailwinds to FirstEnergy’s growth prospects.

Currently, FirstEnergy sports a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors looking for better-ranked utility players may consider The Empire District Electric Company (EDE - Snapshot Report) Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ED - Analyst Report) and Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC - Analyst Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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