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FirstEnergy Corporation’s (FE - Analyst Report) modernization drive continues with its business wing Mon Power announcing plans to invest around $60.0 million for the upgrade of electrical systems in 34 West Virginia counties.

The upgrade plan in West Virginia includes extending the distribution system to new service areas, installation of transformers, inspection and replacement of electric poles and accelerating vegetation management projects. These activities will bring greater service reliability and equip FirstEnergy to handle future load growth.

Per the plan, $11.0 million will be shelled out for expanding distribution assets to include new residential and commercial consumers. A $7.0 million is allocated for boosting the high-voltage transmission lines in the region.

Going forward, FirstEnergy will spend about $3.0 million for carrying out the installation of a second transformer at the Miracle Run Substation to supplement capacity and increase reliability in the Monongalia County.

An additional $3.0 million will be spent on scrutinizing and changing the distribution poles which is anticipated to be concluded before winter. Further, replacement of equipment at the Weirton Substation as well as throughout the service areas will cost the company roughly $1.8 million.

Finally, FirstEnergy will continue its job of trimming tree limbs and other vegetation that often disrupts power services during heavy storms. The areas marked for this job include the counties of Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Kingwood, Lewisburg, Morgantown and Parkersburg.

Earlier, FirstEnergy’s subsidiaries Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison and Jersey Central Power & Light have all announced their utility asset modernization plans. Ohio Edison and Cleveland Electric will spend a respective $275.0 million and $152.0 million. Toledo Edison and Jersey Central will invest approximately $11.0 million and $200.0 million, respectively.

We anticipate FirstEnergy to benefit from its strong midstream initiatives and its focus on the natural gas business. Besides, the expenditure for asset upgrade is already included in Mon Power’s rates which will lead to customer retention as well as maintain its competitiveness in the market.

FirstEnergy presently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other utility stocks to look out for are Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) Brookfield Infrastructures Partners L.P. (BIP - Snapshot Report), Pike Electric Corporation (PIKE - Snapshot Report) and Empresa Nacional Electricidad SA (EOC).

Based in Akron, Ohio, FirstEnergy engages in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the United States.
 

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