With summer officially arriving this week, PPL Electric Utilities said it is ready for the increasing power demands pushed by heat and high humidity. In addition to annual comprehensive inspections and maintenance of its electric delivery system, PPL Electric Utilities has completed 59 distribution system upgrades in recent months. These upgrades, many identified and designed a few years ago, were planned and constructed so that local facilities will be able to handle the increased load that comes with summertime heat and higher electric usage.
Overall, PPL Electric Utilities plans about $450 million in capital investments this year, mainly in new facilities and equipment across its 10,000-sq mi service territory to address aging infrastructure, improve service reliability, and meet local growth. Through May, about $177 million in projects geared to maintain solid reliability have been completed.
With nearly 400 substations and almost 50,000 mi of power lines across central and eastern Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities performs system maintenance year-round, but the work is especially important during spring and fall prior to the seasons with higher electric demand associated with cooling and heating appliances and extreme weather.
"Each year, executing our seasonal maintenance along with system improvements enables us to deliver safe, reliable power when our customers need," said Gregory N. Dudkin, PPL Electric Utilities senior vice president, Operations. "For us, summer readiness means we must be up to the task to respond effectively to summer storms like those just prior to Memorial Day as well as the daily demands of our customers during this season when air conditioners are humming to keep us cool."
Among the new facilities are distribution substations that came on line this spring to boost local supply and provide better electric distribution, including:
- A new $2.3 million South Mechanicsburg substation near South Market Street in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County, and a new $2.1 million Wertzville substation and new distribution circuits in Silver Spring near Harrisburg, Cumberland County.
- A new $2 million substation in Jessup, near Scranton, and another on Cedar Avenue in Scranton, Lackawanna County, to support local growth.
- Upgrades to the Cherry Hill substation and associated local circuits that serve local customers in the Bushkill Twp. area of Northampton County at a cost of $750,000.
- And, a $2.7 million expansion of the Roseville substation in Manheim Township, and the Greenland substation in East Lampeter, both in Lancaster County, that will increase local reliability, reduce outage duration, and provide maintenance and operating flexibility. Additionally, circuit improvements that will benefit customers in the West Willow, Strasburg and Millersville areas of the county.
Two noteworthy projects on the transmission network will help ensure summer reliability:
- Rebuilding a 6.7-mi 69-kV line in Northampton County, known as Siegfried-Quarry, at a cost of $6 million. Originally constructed in 1918, this line supplies power to 7,600 residents and businesses in Hanover, Bethlehem, Lower Nazareth, Allen and East Allen townships.
- Rebuilding approximately 8 mi of 69-kV transmission lines in Scranton between the company's Stanton and Providence substations, as well as replacing several miles of local distribution lines and improvements to the area substations. The final portions of this two-year $7 million project are due to be completed in the coming weeks.
Last summer, demand for electricity on the PPL Electric system peaked at 7,214 MW on July 7, 2010. The utility's summer record occurred on August 1, 2006 when demand peaked at 7,554 MW. Demand for power typically occurs during the late afternoon hours.