In an effort to support northern West Virginia’s expanding Marcellus Shale gas industry, FirstEnergy Corp. announced Dec. 22 that it is working on about $100 million in new transmission projects, in addition to evaluating system upgrades on existing equipment.

The new facilities include high-voltage substations and transmission lines to accommodate expanding natural gas processing facilities and other energy-intensive operations in West Virginia’s Marcellus Shale region, FirstEnergy said in a news release.

FirstEnergy anticipates the new transmission facilities will also enhance service reliability for Mon Power’s customers. The new gas customer facilities account for a projected load growth of about 400 megawatts through 2019, or the equivalent of about 200,000 new homes in Mon Power’s system.

“FirstEnergy’s infrastructure enhancements continue to help support the fast-growing Marcellus gas activity in West Virginia,” said Holly Kauffman, FirstEnergy’s president of West Virginia Operations. “This industry is bringing new jobs and economic prosperity to West Virginia, and we are working quickly to keep pace to upgrade our system to provide our gas industry customers access to safe, reliable and affordable electric power.”

Projects include the new Waldo Run transmission substation and a short 138-kilovolt transmission line in Doddridge County near Sherwood. The $52 million project is expected to support industrial users and enhance electric service to more than 6,000 customers in Doddridge, Harrison and Ritchie counties. The substation will accommodate additional load growth at a new natural gas processing facility, which consumes large amounts of electricity separating natural gas into dry and liquid components.

FirstEnergy is also working on a 138-kilovolt transmission line that will support the natural gas industry, as well as enhance service reliability for nearly 13,000 customers in the Clarksburg and Salem areas. The 18-mile, $55 million Oak Mound-Waldo Run transmission project is expected to be placed into service by December 2015.

The company is also evaluating additional transmission upgrades as new service requests from shale gas developers continue throughout the Mon Power territory. FirstEnergy is currently evaluating new transmission facilities in Wetzel County to support a midstream gas processing plant that continues to expand.

The projects are part of $250 million in regulated transmission investments identified through 2015 across FirstEnergy to account for 1,100 megawatts of proposed electric load growth in 2015 through 2019. New transmission infrastructure is expected to benefit all customers in the Marcellus Shale region by boosting electric service reliability across the system.

Mon Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.

By Sarah Tincher, Energy Reporter