After soliciting public input during 13 community meetings, PPL Electric Utilities has submitted the Northeast-Pocono Reliability Project to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approval.
The project will improve electric service for 250,000 people in northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos. It will involve construction of three new electrical substations and a new 230-kV power line.
"This project will have clear and immediate benefits for all of our customers in this region," said Stephanie Raymond, PPL Electric Utilities Transmission and Substation vice president. "It will reduce the number of power outages experienced by our customers, and also will reduce the duration of outages caused by falling trees or severe weather."
The PUC review process generally takes about one year, during which there are opportunities for additional public input. For example, the commission may schedule public input sessions for local residents in the project area.
The route chosen for the power line represents the company's best effort to balance social, environmental and cost impacts while ensuring that PPL Electric Utilities can fulfill its obligation to provide reliable electric service, Raymond said.
"We recognize that there is no perfect route for a power line," Raymond said. "That's why we are so diligent about seeking and listening to public input and making changes to the project — where we can — to address any concerns that may be raised."
This project is needed because electricity use in the region has been increasing for decades. New homes have been built and existing homes are using more electronic devices and appliances. While this growth has been reduced by customers using energy more efficiently, overall demand — particularly during peak times such as winter cold snaps — is expected to continue to grow.
Another need for the project relates to the existing network of 69-kilovolt power lines in this area. These lines are no longer adequate to serve customer needs. These lines are up to 40 miles long, exposing customers to more frequent and longer service outages if lines are damaged during storms. The Northeast-Pocono Reliability Project will address these issues and improve electric service in this part of PPL Electric Utilities' service territory.
The new power line will be about 58 miles long. It will connect the new electrical substations to the existing high-voltage grid, strengthening the local electric delivery network. The project, which will cost about $200 million, will serve customers in parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Wayne, Pike, Carbon and Luzerne counties.