A six-year project to improve electric service for homes and businesses in northeast Pennsylvania and the Pocono Mountains was announced last week by PPL Electric Utilities.

The project will take place in parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Wayne, Pike and Luzerne counties. It is part of more than $3 billion in infrastructure improvements planned by PPL Electric Utilities to benefit customers throughout its 29-county service territory.

The largest part of the project will be the construction of about 60 miles of new 230-kV power line from the Wilkes-Barre area to an area west of Hawley, Wayne County. Three new electrical substations will be built to serve customers along this line.

Also as part of the project, PPL will rebuild about 20 miles of an existing 69-kV power line that runs from the Peckville area in Lackawanna County to Honesdale in Wayne County.

The location of the new 230-kV power line has not yet been determined. Potential routes will be selected only after PPL Electric Utilities does a detailed study of the region and seeks public comment. Based on public input and other factors, PPL Electric Utilities will choose a preferred route and submit it to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approval.

"Existing electrical facilities in the area are no longer adequate to serve customer needs," said Gregory N. Dudkin, senior vice president of operations for PPL Electric Utilities. "By making these improvements, we will ensure that people living and working in the region have a safe and reliable supply of power long into the future."

The project also will make electric service more reliable by reducing the number of power outages experienced by customers, and by reducing the duration of outages caused by falling trees or severe weather.

The project also is needed because of growth in the demand for electricity. Electricity use in the region has been increasing for decades, as new homes were built and existing homes used more electronic devices and appliances. This growth slowed slightly during the recent economic recession, and is likely to be partially offset by energy-saving measures being promoted by PPL Electric Utilities. But overall, demand in the region is expected to continue to increase.

"As always, we will be working very hard to involve the public in this project and to consider input – where practical – to pick the proposed locations," Dudkin said. "As with all projects of this type, we are very focused on reducing, to the extent possible, impacts on people and the environment."