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. This systemwide total includes several projects, ranging in cost from nearly $100,000 to more than $10 million, in the Poconos region (Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties).
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. “These investments in our communities will pay off in stronger reliability at a time when demand is especially heavy with warmer summertime weather.”
In Monroe County, customers in the Lake Naomi and nearby areas in Tobyhanna Township will benefit from two projects costing $1.4 million to rebuild local distribution lines and connect nearby circuits with new electronic switches to provide better reliability and meet increased demand. Another reliability improvement project was completed to benefit customers in Stroud Township at a nearly $600,000 investment.
PPL Electric Utilities also completed earlier this spring two major multimillion dollar projects designed to boost local power supply and service reliability in Monroe and Carbon counties. The $10 million Effort Mountain and $2 million Appenzell projects included taps into existing transmission lines to supply newly built substations and new distribution facilities serving area customers. The upgrades benefit Chestnuthill, Jackson and Polk townships in Monroe County and Penn Forest Township in Carbon County.
Several upgrades in Wayne County will reduce the number of outages, as well as outage length. Remotely controlled switches and automated equipment have been installed at substations in the Gouldsboro area of Lehigh Township, Lake Township and South Canaan Township. The added technology helps system operators deal with changing system conditions and respond more quickly to problems that occur. Also, about 5,900 customers will benefit from improved reliability from new lines and upgraded equipment in the Lakeville section of Paupack Township and Salem Township areas. The new additions will reduce the number of customers on each line and help reduce the length of outages when they occur.
In Pike County, the two local substations in Blooming Grove Township are among 22 facilities receiving early this year critical equipment, such as the replacement of power transformers, circuit breakers and switching gear as part of a planned long-term system modernization effort.
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 the Pocono and northeast Pennsylvania region. 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.