Following extensive study and public input, PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania has finalized the route of a new power line from Coopersburg to Quakertown, and has filed a formal application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approval.
The PUC filing is the next step in a process that will allow PPL to significantly improve the reliability of service for tens of thousands of electric customers in the region.
PPL studied several possible alternatives for the path of the new 7-mile power line before settling on the preferred route. In response to public comment, the company relocated a portion of the route to avoid a tract of county-preserved land in Richland Township, Bucks County.
“With demand for electricity rising steadily in upper Bucks County and lower Lehigh County, we need to build this line to meet that demand and ensure that we can provide reliable electric service,” said David Schleicher, PPL’s vice president-Transmission.
In choosing the power line’s path, Schleicher said, PPL balanced several key objectives: minimizing inconvenience for property owners, protecting the environment and controlling costs, because electric customers pay the cost of new lines through rates.
Before selecting the route for the line, PPL held two public open houses to get input and answer questions. PPL also has been in touch with state, county and municipal officials as well as individual property owners along the route, and their input was factored into the final route selection.
PPL has reached agreement with most of the property owners along the route, Schleicher said. Property owners are paid a fee for “right of way” for PPL to build and maintain the line.
The new power line will replace one built in the 1920s. It will be constructed primarily on single steel poles. It will carry 69,000 volts of electricity, and is being designed to carry 138,000 volts in the future, when further growth in electricity demand requires it.
Scientific studies of the route show that no threatened or endangered species would be affected by construction. During construction, PPL will follow all applicable regulations designed to protect streams and watersheds, Schleicher said.
“This new power line is absolutely critical to provide reliable electric service in this fast-growing region,” Schleicher said. “Without it, we’d be facing overloads of existing lines, and that could lead to serious problems like delayed restoration following power outages or even blackouts.
“We are determined to make sure customers in this area continue to have the same high-quality electric service they have come to expect