Jun 14, 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 14 projects in the Lehigh Valley and Bucks-Montgomery areas, ranging in cost from about $100,000 to multimillion-dollar improvements.
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.
“Our customers count on us for reliable service every time they flip the switch, and we’re making necessary investments so we can deliver on that expectation,” said Sarah Fliszar, regional operations director for the utility. “These investments in our communities will pay off in stronger reliability at a time when demand is especially heavy with warmer summertime weather.”
In Lehigh County, three different projects will benefit several thousand customers in Whitehall and South Whitehall townships with a more than $1 million investment. New distribution facilities were built, and four existing lines and three substations were upgraded to meet increased demand and improve reliability.
In Northampton County earlier this year, the company added a new substation and made distribution power line improvements in Moore Township, a $3 million project that will improve local reliability. More than $800,000 in equipment upgrades at a Bethlehem substation will improve operations and minimize customer impact from outages when problems occur, improving reliability for more than 1,900 customers.
As part of a systemwide modernization program, major upgrades were completed at 22 substations, mainly involving the replacement of power transformers, circuit breakers and switching gear. This work includes the replacement of six circuit breakers at the Hosensack substation in Lower Milford Township, as well as upgrades in Allentown, South Whitehall and Upper Macungie in Lehigh County; Allen Township, Northampton County; and Telford, Montgomery County. And the utility replaced 15 poles along a 69-kilovolt transmission line in Lehigh Township at a cost of $313,000.
For improved reliability and operations, remotely controlled switches and automated equipment have been installed at five substations at a combined cost of about $2.8 million. This work is part of a wider strategy to install technology that helps system operators respond to problems more quickly. The upgraded substations include Seidersville in Lower Saucon Township and Farmersville in Bethlehem, Northampton County.
In Bucks and Montgomery counties, upgrades included building local lines and three substation projects in the Blooming Glen area in Perkasie, Bucks County, and in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County.
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.
The company completed visual patrols and infrared thermal inspections of its overhead distribution lines as part of its overall spring 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 $2.4 million this year on inspections and reinforcement of utility poles in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks and Montgomery counties. 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.
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 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.