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FirstEnergy (FE) Upgrades Transmission Lines With Aerial Crew

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FirstEnergy Corporation’s (FE - Free Report) subsidiary, American Transmission Systems Inc. (“ATSI”), has announced that it is using proactive aerial services along the 68-mile transmission line corridor that runs through the Carroll, Columbiana, Jefferson, Stark and Summit counties. FirstEnergy is replacing more than 1,100 insulators using helicopters and ground crews, which will lessen the likelihood of power outages in northeast Ohio.

In comparison to sending ground crews to each facility, FE is adopting the aerial method that is quicker and more effective since it gives a larger view of electrical equipment and enables the examination of dozens of miles of power lines in a day.

In July, ATSI started replacing insulators and expects to complete replacements on 376 transmission structures along the corridor by this year. The upgrade is being conducted on the 345-kilovolt transmission line running northwest from a substation in Stratton, OH, to a substation in Wadsworth, OH.

The project is part of the ‘Energizing the Future’ plan, a $7-billion initiative, which aims at enhancing and expanding regulated transmission capabilities to reinforce the power grid and help reduce the frequency and duration of customer outages.

Need for Infrastructure Upgrade

Electricity generation, transmission and distribution facilities operated by utilities run the possibility of an equipment breakdown or failure due to the aged infrastructure and adverse weather conditions. As a result, utilities are adopting measures to replace and inspect the outdated infrastructure with new cutting-edge technology and equipment.

FirstEnergy is working consistently on maintaining its infrastructure to serve its six million customers more efficiently. Since 2014, FirstEnergy has upgraded or replaced existing power lines, incorporated smart technology into the grid and upgraded dozens of substations with new equipment and enhanced security features.

Per the ‘Energizing the Future’ plan, FE aims to invest $3.3 billion in 2022, 15% higher compared with the 2021 investments, to strengthen the grid and lead a clean energy transition.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

FirstEnergy currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). In the past year, shares of FE have rallied 3.7% compared with the industry’s growth of 8.9%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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Utilities’ Focus on Infrastructure

To provide a 24X7 electricity supply for consumers, utilities are investing heavily in strengthening their infrastructure. They are replacing old transmission and distribution lines and adopting technological upgrades to increase the resiliency of infrastructure for withstanding the impact of extreme weather conditions. To name a few are Xcel Energy (XEL - Free Report) , NiSource (NI - Free Report) and Pinnacle West Capital (PNW - Free Report) .

Xcel Energy continues to invest substantially in its utility assets and aims to strengthen and expand its transmission, distribution, electric generation and renewable projects. XEL aims to spend $26 billion during the 2022-2026 period, which includes $1.5 to $2.5 billion in incremental opportunities.

NiSource is working on a long-term utility infrastructure modernization program and made capital investments worth $1.9 billion in 2021 and plans to invest in the range of $2.4-$2.7 billion in 2022. NI estimated $40-billion long-term natural gas and electric infrastructure investment opportunities, which are expected to drive earnings beyond 2024.

To efficiently serve its expanding customer base, Pinnacle West Capital has systematic investment plans to increase generation and strengthen its transmission and distribution lines. After investing $1.5 billion in 2021, it aims at investing $1.53 billion in 2022. PNW also plans to invest $4.7 billion during the 2022-2024 period.

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