FirstEnergy (FE) Units on Infrastructure Overhaul Drive

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Diversified energy company FirstEnergy Corporation’s FE units are investing heavily to upgrade their infrastructure.

The main objective of these investments is to modernize the electric system and improve service reliability. This initiative will not only boost customer retention but also attract new ones.

Details of the Projects

Jersey Central Power & Light (“JCP&L”) has spent over $233 million of the allocated $387 million for transmission and distribution infrastructure projects, which include the construction of transmission lines, expansion of substations and upgrading voltage controls. These investments are aimed to reduce service disruptions to its customer base of nearly 1.1 million in New Jersey.

Another utility, Toledo Edison, serving over 300,000 customers in Northwest Ohio, has invested over $59 million of the allocated $115 million in the replacement of aging utility poles and circuit breakers and the construction of transmission lines to ensure smooth, uninterrupted service.

The Illuminating Company has invested over $131 million of the allotted $237 million in the installation of voltage-regulating equipment, replacement of underground circuits and transformers at substations and construction of a new modular substation at Brecksville to handle increased load.

Ohio Edison, which caters to over 1 million customers in Ohio, has spent over $195 million of the allocated $369 million on similar projects to guarantee uninterrupted and reliable service.

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Outlook

FirstEnergy’s ambitious “Energizing the Future” plan, which aims at upgrading and expanding the company’s transmission capabilities, remains on track to invest $4.2 billion over the 2014–2017 period. Of this amount, nearly $3 billion has already been spent to date.

FirstEnergy has been investing substantially in strengthening its regulated transmission and distribution operations, and believes them to be major drivers of long-term growth and profitability.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

FirstEnergy currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the utility space include Korea Electric Power Corp. KEP, Spark Energy, Inc. SPKE and DTE Energy Company DTE. Both Korea Electric and Spark Energy sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while DTE Energy is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock.

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