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FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary Ohio Edison says it is investing approximately $275 million this year to support a variety of grid modernization projects, including the completion of three new substations, enhanced circuits and substations, and utility-pole replacement.

The utility says these initiatives are designed to improve the system and reliability in northern and central Ohio. Ohio Edison will build two new modular substations to serve areas of growing load in Montville and Brimfield at a combined cost of about $4 million. The company is also constructing the new Black River Substation in Lorain, which will involve the removal of transmission lines and an existing substation at a cost of approximately $17 million.

Existing substations in Akron, Canal Fulton, Cortland, Garrettsville, Medina, North Fairfield, Warren and Youngstown will also be upgraded to include relays and control systems that will aid in remote monitoring and operations from Ohio Edison's dispatch center in Akron. Animal guards will be installed, insulators and switches will be replaced, and breaker upgrades will also be made to help reduce the frequency and duration of outages.

Additionally, the utility will spend more than $8.5 million to inspect and replace distribution poles. The inspection process is conducted on a 10-year cycle, and approximately 58,000 utility poles will be inspected in 2013. About 3,000 poles are expected to be replaced.

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