After 18 public meetings and thousands of conversations with residents along the route – and after seeking public input on everything from route selection to line design – PPL Electric Utilities has submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission its application to site and build the Susquehanna-Roseland power line.

The line is needed because demand for electricity in our area has risen substantially in recent years, and is expected to continue to rise over the long term despite the current slowdown in the economy. The existing power line infrastructure has not been improved to keep up with increasing demand.

The 500-kV power line will benefit all area residents and businesses – regardless of their local electric company – by helping to prevent overloads on the regional grid. These overloads could lead to serious problems and even blackouts during the times when electricity is needed the most, such as cold winter nights and hot summer days.

“We have worked tirelessly to identify the best route for this line, to speak with residents about their questions and concerns, and to address the concerns where we can,” said David E. Schleicher, vice president-Transmission for PPL Electric Utilities. “I am confident this application shows that we have been as responsive as possible to the many comments we have received.”

The route for the line runs north from Berwick, Pa., past Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, then east to Hawley and southeast to Bushkill, before crossing into New Jersey, where it meets the portion of the line being built by Public Service Electric & Gas Co.

It follows existing power line routes for the vast majority of its distance, more than 90 percent, helping to reduce impact on people and the environment. In many areas, old lattice-type structures supporting the existing line will be removed and replaced with new poles and pole-type structures for the new line.

During the PUC review process, which is expected to take about one year, PPL Electric Utilities will move forward with final design work. This work will determine where each of the new poles will be placed, where temporary access roads will be needed during construction and other details. The line is scheduled to be in service by May 2012.
The PUC is expected to schedule public input hearings in several communities along the line route as part of the review process.

“We will continue to seek community input and incorporate it into this project where possible,” Schleicher said. “There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ power line route, and we understand that new lines can cause concern. We are absolutely committed to doing what we can to address issues raised by residents.”

The PJM Interconnection, which oversees reliability planning for the regional power grid, identified the need for the new line. PJM ordered PPL Electric Utilities to build the Pennsylvania portion and ordered PSE&G to build the New Jersey portion of the line.

Construction of the new power line will provide a much-needed economic boost to the northeast Pennsylvania region of at least $100 million over three years, according to an economic impact study conducted by the Penn State Workforce Education and Development Initiative Team. The project will create 165 to 300 construction jobs during the period.