T&D World Magazine

PPL Electric Utilities Selects Route for New Regional Power Line

After an exhaustive study process that included 10 public input workshops throughout the region and numerous discussions with residents, elected officials and others, PPL Electric Utilities has chosen Route B as the route for the Susquehanna-Roseland power line project in Pennsylvania.

The selected route runs north from Berwick, Pa., past Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, then east to Hawley and southeast to Bushkill where it crosses the Delaware River. It follows existing power lines for almost its entire distance.

Public Service Electric & Gas Co will build the New Jersey portion of the power line, from the river to Roseland, N.J..

“Two of our main goals were to minimize the impact of this project on residents near the line, and on the environment,” said David E. Schleicher, vice president-Transmission. “We are convinced that this is the best route to accomplish those goals while providing very real reliability benefits for electric customers in eastern Pennsylvania and throughout the region.”

The 500-kV power line is needed to handle increasing customer demand for electricity that could otherwise lead to overloads and even blackouts on the regional power grid. Because overloads can have widespread regional effects, the line will benefit all electric customers in the region, regardless of where they live or which electric company serves their needs, Schleicher said.

He pointed out that the regional blackout of 2003 – which started with power line failures in Ohio – spread as far as New York City, leaving nearly 50 million people without electricity. “The regional electricity transmission system is only as strong as its weakest link,” Schleicher said.

The PJM Interconnection, which oversees reliability planning for the regional power grid, identified the need for the new line and assigned PPL Electric Utilities to build the Pennsylvania portion.

PJM determined that if this upgrade is not made by May 2012, there is the potential for overloads on other power lines. The danger is greatest during periods when demand is highest – the hottest summer days and the coldest winter nights.

Because this type of power line provides regional benefits, all electric customers in PJM, a region of 51 million people encompassing 13 states and the District of Columbia, share its cost.

“We understand that new power lines – even if they are built where existing lines now stand – can cause concern for nearby residents,” Schleicher said. “We will work very hard with individual property owners to answer their questions and address their concerns about this project as we move forward.”

PPL Electric Utilities evaluated three possible routes for the line. Two of the possible routes went north through Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wayne and Pike counties. The third possible route went south through Schuylkill, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

The decision to choose Route B was made after careful consideration of impacts along all three routes, and after considering public input. PPL Electric Utilities received extensive comments from interested people along all three routes, including comments made in person at public input workshops, by phone using a special toll-free number, and by e-mail from the project’s Web site, www.pplreliablepower.com.

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