PPL (NYSE:PPL) subsidiary PPL Electric Utilities is seeking approval from Pennsylvania state regulators for its proposed Northeast-Pocono Reliability Project, which will involve a new 230-kV line and new electrical substations.
The new power line will be about 58 miles long and will connect the new substations to the existing high-voltage grid, strengthening the local electric delivery network, PPL said in a Dec. 28, 2012 statement. The project will serve customers in parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Wayne, Pike, Carbon and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania.
According to the application filed with the state Public Utility Commission, the estimated cost to design and build the project is about $154m, including about $36m for the substation work; $90.6m for the 230-kV transmission line network; $10.3m for the 138/69-kV transmission line work; and $171.1m for the acquisition of needed rights-of-way and land for the substations.
The company also said that the only supply source to the Northeast Pocono region is provided by 138/69-kV transmission lines and it has been about 30 years since the last major regional transmission reinforcement was built in that area.
There has been substantial load growth in the area since then and that is expected to continue, the company said, adding that its system studies indicate that, starting in 2014, certain facilities would be in violation of PPL Electric Utilities’ “Reliability Principles & Practices.”
The project is required to resolve the violations and to reinforce the existing 138/69-kV systems serving the region by bringing a new 230-kV supply source closer to the growing load centers. To do this, the company added, it proposes to locate the new West Pocono and North Pocono 230-69-kV substations central to the loads they will serve. The new substations and associated new transmission lines will reduce the distance between the power supply and the homes and businesses that use the electricity, which will reduce the number of customers affected by a single facility outage, as well as the duration of the outage.
The new substations will connect to the existing 230-kV transmission systems by building the new 230-kV line. They will connect to the existing local 138/69-kV transmission systems by building about 11.3 miles of new 138/69-kV lines.
In the statement, PPL noted that new homes have been built and existing homes are using more electronic devices and appliances. While this growth has been reduced by customers using energy more efficiently, overall demand is expected to continue to grow, particularly during peak times such as winter cold snaps. PPL also said that the 69-kV power lines in the area are no longer adequate to serve customer needs, adding that the lines are up to 40 miles long, exposing customers to more frequent and longer service outages if lines are damaged during storms.
The company added that the route chosen for the line represents its best effort to balance social, environmental and cost impacts while ensuring that PPL Electric Utilities can fulfill its obligation to provide reliable electric service.
“We recognize that there is no perfect route for a power line,” Stephanie Raymond, PPL Electric Utilities Transmission and Substation vice president, said in the statement. “That’s why we are so diligent about seeking and listening to public input and making changes to the project — where we can — to address any concerns that may be raised.”
PPL said the PUC review process generally takes about a year, during which there are opportunities for additional public input.
According to the application, if approved, project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014 to meet the in-service date of November 2017.