FirstEnergy has energised a 69kV transmission line project which will modernise the local power grid to meet the future energy demands of Ohio Edison customers in Ashland, County in the US state of Ohio.

The $7m rebuild project involved removing an older, existing transmission line and replacing it with a new set of wood poles capable of carrying new, higher capacity wires.

Crews installed nearly seven miles of wire on 127 new wooden structures within the existing right-of-way, reducing impact on affected property owners in Perrysville Village and Green Township, Ohio.

In addition, remote control switching devices were added to help prevent some outages from occurring. Or, if an outage does occur, this advanced equipment can automatically pinpoint the location of a service disruption and limit the outage to only those customers where the damage occurred.

This helps to reduce the number of overall customers that are affected and shorten the duration.

Ohio Edison regional president Randy Frame said: "Upgrading this transmission line will help keep power flowing around the clock to our customers.

"The new power line and remotely controlled equipment will strengthen the local power grid in Ashland County and the surrounding area, and help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages."

Since 2014, FirstEnergy and its affiliates have upgraded or replaced 69kV transmission lines and substations, including in the Ohio Edison service area. New, smart technology has been incorporated into the grid, and dozens of substations were upgraded with new equipment and enhanced security features.

These upgrades produced significantly fewer outages on the 69kV system last year compared to the average number of outages in previous years.

The projects are part of FirstEnergy's Energizing the Future initiative, which began in 2014 and now includes $4.2 to $5.8bn of investment in electric transmission infrastructure between 2017-2021. 

Key factors driving these investments include replacing existing equipment with advanced technologies designed to enhance system reliability; meeting projected load growth driven by shale gas-related activity and other development in the region; and reinforcing the system in light of power plant deactivations.