Energy / FirstEnergy

PUCO, FirstEnergy’s common goal: a better grid

FirstEnergy is rebuilding its system of high-voltage transmission lines and could spend up to $15 billion on upgrades in the next few years. The company owns 24,000 miles of high-voltage power lines.

AKRON — “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. appear to want the same thing: the development of a smarter, more reliable electricity grid in Ohio that likely will cost hundreds of millions of dollars but should make the state more attractive to business and provide better electric service for all.

Not to mention that it will generate guaranteed profits for utilities such as FirstEnergy.

The PUCO is pushing and promoting its Power Forward program, which aims to review new technologies and regulatory strategies to shape how the commission and the state’s utilities roll out new grid developments.

PUCO chairman Asim Haque said in a recent interview that the commission will no longer focus on regulating generation — which has increasingly become the domain of unregulated competitors to traditional utilities like FirstEnergy — and instead focus on the state’s massive transmission and distribution system. That’s still largely regulated, run by the utilities that the PUCO has been overseeing since its inception, and critical to ensuring that the future needs of businesses and consumers are met, Haque said.”

— Dan Shingler, Crain’s Cleveland Business

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