FirstEnergy Corp. said it has completed $6 million in transmission projects in its Ohio Edison service area, built in part to support new natural gas processing facilities in the state’s portion of the Utica Shale, and is evaluating additional upgrades to meet the rising demand for electricity brought about by shale development.

The Akron, OH-based company said Monday that the new facilities included a high-voltage substation and transmission lines. Collectively, the new facilities were projected to ultimately generate about 125 megawatts (MW) of electric load growth “to accommodate new natural gas processing facilities and other energy-intensive operations” in the Utica Shale. FirstEnergy said the load growth was the equivalent of adding more than 60,000 new homes.

“The shale gas industry is creating new jobs and helping restore economic prosperity to portions of our service territory,” said Randall Frame, Ohio Edison’s regional president. “Part of the gas industry’s success relies on its ability to access safe, affordable and reliable electric power, and we are committed to meeting the demanding requirements of this fast-growing segment.”

FirstEnergy said the list of recently completed projects includes a new $3 million upgrade to a substation in southern Columbiana County, which will serve Utica East Ohio’s (UEO) Kensington processing facility (see Shale Daily, Oct. 2, 2013). “The new substation includes specialized equipment that will help reduce the number and duration of power outages in the area,” the company said. “The substation will also provide greater operational flexibility to manage the local electric system in light of the significant power needs of the UEO facility.”

The company also completed a 3.5-mile, 138-kilovolt (kV) transmission line to provide service to Pennant Midstream LLC’s Hickory Bend Processing Plant, located in Mahoning County’s Springfield Township (see Shale Daily, Jan. 6, 2014). The new transmission line, which cost FirstEnergy nearly $3 million, connects to an existing 138-kV transmission line in Mahoning County and allows for future expansion at the Pennant plant.

“FirstEnergy is currently evaluating additional transmission upgrades as new service requests from shale gas developers continue throughout the Ohio Edison territory,” the company said.

FirstEnergy said the projects are part of a $250 million investment in regulated transmission throughout its service area, designed to support 1,100 MW of proposed electric load growth from 2015-2019. “New transmission infrastructure benefits all customers in the Utica Shale region by boosting electric service reliability across the system,” the company said.

Last Month, First Energy said it was spending about $100 million on electric transmission projects in West Virginia’s portion of the Marcellus Shale (see Shale Daily, Dec. 22, 2014). The new facilities include high-voltage substations and transmission lines to accommodate expanding gas processing facilities and other operations.