Jun 15, 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 includes several projects, ranging in cost from nearly $100,000 to multimillion dollar improvements, in northcentral Pennsylvania (primarily Schuylkill, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland and Clinton 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 Frank Gaida, 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.”
Notable distribution projects will benefit customers in the following areas:
As part of a proactive long-term system modernization program, the company completed major upgrades of critical equipment at 22 substations across the company’s service territory, mainly involving the replacement of power transformers, circuit breakers and switching gear. Substations receiving upgrades included facilities in Lock Haven in Clinton County; Frackville, Schuylkill County; Franklin Township and Shamokin Dam Borough, both Snyder County; and Sunbury, Northumberland County.
The utility said it also completed upgrades along transmission lines in Lycoming, Schuylkill and Northumberland counties, replacing older lines and adding new switchgear for improved operations.
System inspections and electric demand
PPL Electric Utilities’ delivery system – which includes almost 400 substations and almost 50,000 miles of power lines – is maintained and inspected 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 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 more than $20 million system wide this year on inspections and reinforcement of utility poles. 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.