Continuing its advance planning for the Susquehanna-Roseland power line, PPL Electric Utilities has awarded a major contract to a company with plants in the Hazleton area – a move expected to create more than 50 new jobs and pump millions of dollars into the regional economy.

Valmont Industries Inc., with plants in Hazleton and West Hazleton, will design and manufacture the steel poles for the 101-mi Pennsylvania segment of the line. The contract, awarded through a competitive bidding process, will lead to a significant boost for the two manufacturing facilities, Valmont officials said.

“We’re pleased to award this contract, valued in excess of $70 million, to a local employer so that the positive economic benefits will accrue to the people here in the PPL Electric Utilities home territory,” said David G. DeCampli, president of PPL Electric Utilities. “As a result, this line not only will provide more reliable electric service, but it also will provide economic stimulus at a time when the region really needs it.”

“We can foresee the need to add highly skilled and well-paid jobs to our local work force,” said Valmont General Manager Paul Fallon. He said the contract is significant, both in terms of the new jobs and in terms of what it means for the company’s long-term prospects as a solid employer in the region.

“We congratulate both Valmont and PPL Electric Utilities, but the real beneficiary today is Greater Hazleton,” said Kevin O’Donnell, president of CAN DO Inc., a nonprofit economic development corporation serving the region. “It’s not every day when your community can say that one of our local employers received a contract worth in excess of $70 million that will create more than 50 quality new jobs.”

Timing of the new jobs and economic benefits for the region depends on the timing of construction, DeCampli said. Major approvals already have been received from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Additional approval is needed from the National Park Service, which has said its environmental review could take until early 2012.

“We’re working to obtain all approvals and move forward with this project,” DeCampli said. “This line is needed for regional electric service reliability. It will prevent overloads on other regional power lines, making it less likely that a problem with one power line would lead to a regional blackout like the one that affected millions of people in August 2003.”

The regional economic benefits of the Valmont Industries contract are in addition to the benefits expected from construction of the Susquehanna-Roseland line. Construction will create 165 to 330 jobs, resulting in a positive economic impact to the region of $100 million for the three-year period, according to an economic impact study by Penn State’s Workforce Education and Development Initiative Team.

More information on the Susquehanna-Roseland project can be found at http://www.pplreliablepower.com/.