Three FirstEnergy utilities have filed a four-year, $626 million grid modernization plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that includes installation of 700,000 smart meters and equipment to reduce the duration and frequency of power outages, the utility company announced Monday.
The filing covers Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison, and builds on a previous grid modernization plan regulators approved in 2019. Approximately 704,000 smart meters were rolled out in that first modernization effort, the utility said.
"This has laid the foundation for us to further enhance service reliability across our entire service area in Ohio," Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy Operations, said in a statement.
As a result of the proposals, customers will see improved reliability and energy efficiency opportunities, Belcher said. The benefits of FirstEnergy’s new proposals “are estimated to exceed the costs of the program by nearly $280 million in today's dollars," he said.
The new plan also includes the installation of automated equipment on nearly 240 distribution grid sections “that can automatically isolate problems, minimize the number of customers impacted by an outage and quickly restore electric service,” FirstEnergy said in its announcement. It also calls for installing voltage regulating equipment on nearly 220 grid sections.
FirstEnergy has requested authorization to offer $50 rebates for smart thermostats, and pilot programs to support electric vehicle adoption and the installation of battery storage.
FirstEnergy also said it is testing the use of higher-capacity residential and commercial EV chargers that have the ability to shift charging loads away from peak demand periods and can facilitate bidirectional power flows so that energy can be sent back to the grid.