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PPL $335M reliability project approved

By: Barbara Vergetis Lundin |

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved PPL Electric Utilities Corp.’s Northeast Pocono Reliability Project and the company’s application to use eminent domain as part of the project. PPL submitted the project to the PUC in late December 2012, after soliciting public input.

Voting 5-0 to authorize the project, the commission found that the new facilities are necessary, and PPL took reasonable steps to minimize the environmental effects of the construction and maintenance of the facilities. The commission decision is consistent with the Recommended Decision issued by the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge.

“We’re pleased the PUC gave the go-ahead for this important work,” said Stephanie Raymond, PPL Electric Utilities Transmission and Substation vice president. “Investing in our system and keeping it strong means more reliable service for customers.”

The $335 million Northeast Pocono Reliability Project involves building new electrical substations and a new 230 kilovolt power line running approximately 60 miles. Other project work is planned to improve existing 69 kilovolt power lines in the region.

The approval of the Northeast Pocono Reliability Project also includes authorization of an application seeking approval for the siting and construction of transmission lines, as well as two petitions seeking a Commission finding that the buildings to shelter control equipment at the proposed North Pocono and West Pocono substations are reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public and therefore exempt from any local zoning ordinance. Further, there are 22 applications requesting a commission finding that the service to be furnished by PPL through its proposed exercise of eminent domain for the siting and construction of the project is necessary or proper for the service, accommodation convenience or safety of the public.

The planned work will reduce the number of outages in the area as well as the duration of outages caused by severe weather and falling trees. In addition, the improvements will increase reliability in a region where electric use has grown for decades because of new home construction and general increased power use from things like appliances and electronics.

PPL Electric Utilities is working with various agencies to secure necessary environmental permits. The project could be complete in 2017.