A Look At How PPL Electric Utilities Is Improving Its System
From Teri MacBride, PPL Regional Affairs Director
PPL Electric Utilities’ network investments are providing long-term service reliability to help businesses remain competitive, as well as an economic development boost with jobs and contract work for everything from traffic control to line clearing.
Reliable electric delivery for quality, consistent operations helps businesses remain productive and competitive. PPL Electric Utilities is focused on providing a reliable power supply at a reasonable cost and operating more efficiently to make sure electric service remains a good value.
The utility invested $4.7 billion over the past decade to improve its electric delivery system, and will invest another $5.7 billion over the next five years as it continues to renew, strengthen and modernize the network. It’s the largest investment of its kind since the 1960s and ‘70s.
According to the latest reliability statistics, the work and investments have already had a positive effect on the system. Customers are seeing a steady decline in the number of outages, and more improvements are in store.
On average, customers are experiencing 20 percent fewer outages today than in 2007 — when PPL Electric Utilities embarked on one of the largest reliability improvement programs in its history. It expects to have another 20 percent improvement by 2019.
Trees are the biggest cause of storm-related outages, and the company’s expanded trimming and clearing program is also making a difference. As a result, tree-related outages are on the way down — 18 percent fewer in 2014 compared to the average of the previous 10 years.
Strong economic development is powered by a reliable supply of electricity. PPL Electric Utilities’ reliability work also provides job-producing contracts and contractor positions in areas including engineering, tree trimming and traffic control.
Some of the key reliability projects aimed at making the system stronger and more storm-resistant include:
• Installing smart grid equipment, which improves reliability by sensing power outages and rerouting power around the damage — restoring many customers even before repairs are made. In areas where the equipment has been installed, it has reduced outage durations by an average of 30 percent.
• Moving inaccessible lines closer to roadways and dividing some lines into sections to reduce the number of outages customers experience.
• Stepping up removal of trees and tree limbs, to keep them away from power lines. This has reduced the number of customers affected by storms over the past few years.
• Installing stronger, more weather-resistant poles, replacing aging equipment, and installing animal guards to prevent outages caused by squirrels and other animals.
The investments are about making sure the system that serves large and small businesses in central and eastern Pennsylvania is strong well into the future.