The best power outage is the one that never happens.
That held true for 410,000 PPL Electric Utilities customers last year – enough people to fill Penn State University's Beaver Stadium nearly four times – as the company continued to improve the reliability of the system that delivers electricity to homes and businesses in 29 counties of Pennsylvania.
These improvements are the result of a long-term, system-wide investment program that demonstrates PPL Electric Utilities' commitment to delivering reliable electricity for its customers.
PPL has been clearing more trees away from wires, addressing the most common cause of outages during storms. The smart grid system now being installed detects outages instantly and automatically reroutes power to restore service.
Crews have been beefing up poles and wires, and installing equipment to help protect lines and substations from lightning strikes. And, they have been putting in more animal guards to keep squirrels from touching equipment and causing an outage.
"The men and women of PPL Electric Utilities are dedicated to making the system more reliable," said Greg Dudkin, president. "They take great pride in this work because it has such a direct benefit for our customers."
Overall, PPL customers are experiencing about 30 percent fewer outages today than they were in 2007. Additional investments – planned to be nearly $1 billion per year for the next five years – are expected to improve reliability by another 15 percent.
For more accurate comparisons with past performance, the reliability statistics exclude the effects of the most severe storms, such as hurricanes. But other storms are included, so variations in the weather can impact the number of outages experienced by customers.
Even though 2015 was a relatively storm-free year, the number of outages has been on a declining trend since 2006. The number of tree-related power outages was 37 percent lower in 2015 than the average of the previous 10 years.
"We know that power outages disrupt our customers' lives and daily routines," Dudkin said. "That's why we continue our focus on reducing the number and duration of outages."