Jun 13, 2012
If you’re looking ahead to a long summer cooled by the air conditioning, the floor fan, the pool pump or the ice cream maker, PPL Electric Utilities has you covered.
During the first five months of the year, the company has completed more than 80 local improvement projects on its electric transmission and distribution system in every area of its service territory, leading up to the arrival of peak summer demand. That total includes about a dozen projects in the Harrisburg region.
These projects were designed to maintain or improve reliability, meet increased customer demand, replace aging equipment and improve operations throughout the company’s 10,000-square-mile service territory. All told, the company plans to invest $664 million this year and $3.6 billion over the next five years to strengthen, renew and modernize its delivery system.
“These investments in our communities will pay off by providing stronger reliability during the summer, when warmer weather drives demand to peak levels,” said Dana Ferber, regional operations director. “Our customers look to us to provide reliable service, and we are making the necessary preparations to be able to deliver on that expectation.”
In Dauphin County, about 6,400 customers in Lower Paxton Township will benefit from the addition of a new line fed from the Linglestown substation, a nearly $1 million investment. A similar project at the Duke substation will benefit 3,400 customers in Swatara Township and Hummelstown Borough, and a new line from the company’s Windsor substation will improve service to 1,200 customers in the Susquehanna Township area. Also, the company upgraded critical equipment at its Lower Swatara, Lykens, Steelton and South Hershey substations in Dauphin County, as well as its facilities in Lower Allen and Silver Spring townships in Cumberland County.
In Perry County, the company replaced a 500-kilovolt power transformer at the Juniata transmission substation in Centre Township, a $7 million project. It was one of 22 substations receiving major upgrades, mainly involving the replacement of power transformers, circuit breakers and switching gear, as part of a long-term planned system modernization program.
System inspections and electric demand
PPL Electric Utilities’ delivery system – which includes almost 400 substations and almost 50,000 miles of power lines – is inspected and maintained year-round. The work is especially important in the months leading up to summer and winter, the periods of peak electric demand among the company’s customers.
In addition to its system investments, the company also completed visual patrols and infrared thermal inspections of its overhead distribution lines this spring as part of its overall maintenance program. With 33,000 miles of aerial distribution lines, PPL Electric Utilities scans portions of its primary distribution system each year to identify needed maintenance.
The company also is spending $4 million this year in its Harrisburg region on pole inspections and reinforcement. The company has nearly 1 million poles across its system and inspects 10 percent each year on a cyclical basis.
PPL Electric Utilities has also allocated about $45 million this year, up significantly from last year, for clearing trees around power lines and vegetation management to reduce tree-related interruptions, which are the most common cause of sustained outages. That work continues throughout the year.
Last July, the company set a new record for energy delivery in a summer month, delivering 3,823,346 megawatt-hours of electricity. Demand reached 7,527 megawatts on the afternoon of July 22, just shy of the daily record of 7,577 megawatts set in February 2007.
The utility handled last year’s periods of peak demand without significant stress on its system, thanks to investments made to upgrade and strengthen its network.
PJM Interconnection, the grid operator serving 13 states and the District of Columbia, expects to have adequate electric supply available this summer to handle high electricity demand. The peak demand for electricity use this summer is forecast below PJM’s record for all-time peak demand, assuming normal temperatures.
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.