PPL CEO highlights completion of Northeast-Pocono line ahead of schedule

PPL (NYSE:PPL) Chairman, President and CEO William Spence on April 28 touted the company’s efforts on completing such transmission projects as the Northeast-Pocono Reliability Project and the Susquehanna–Roseland line.

During the company’s 1Q16 earnings call, Spence noted that PPL Electric Utilities this month energized its Northeast-Pocono line, one year ahead of schedule. The project, he said, includes 60 miles of new transmission lines, three new substations and additional improvements focused on making the grid more reliable, resilient and secure.

“Completing major transmission projects like this one, or like the Susquehanna Roseland line we completed last spring, takes expertise in construction and project management,” he said. “It also requires working closely with the public and coordinating with various permitting agencies.”

Of generation, Spence noted that Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities continue to invest in environmental upgrades at existing generation facilities, while strengthening the diversity of their generation fleet.

“In late January, we filed environmental compliance and cost recovery plans with the Kentucky Public Service Commission [(PSC)] seeking the approval and environmental cost recovery for $1bn in upcoming environmental improvement projects,” he said.

The application review process before the PSC is proceeding as expected, he said, adding, “We expect to begin investments in these environmental improvements in the second half of 2016, and those will continue through 2023.”

Spence also noted that the company expects “to complete Kentucky’s largest solar facility in June,” referencing a 10 MW facility that is under construction and “represents a cost-effective way to extend the benefits of solar to all customers.”

He added, “While portions of the project continue, we began generating our first solar power from the facility on April 14.”

Also speaking on the call was PPL Electric Utilities President Gregory Dudkin, who, in response to a question on Project Compass said that the company has “put together an interconnection request for the New York ISO [(NYISO)] on the [initial] 95-mile segment” and is waiting for the NYISO “to come back with an approval that all the specifications and reliability impact is positive.”

After that, the company would proceed with the state’s Article VII process, which is basically a siting application, he said.

As noted on the company’s website, the current schedule calls for the first segment of the project to be in service by 2023.

Earnings report

PPL on April 28 announced 1Q16 earnings of $481m, or 71 cents per share, compared with $647m, or 96 cents per share, in 2015.

Adjusting for special items, 1Q16 earnings from ongoing operations were $458m, or 67 cents per share, compared with $519m, or 77 cents per share, a year ago, the company said. As expected, that was driven primarily by lower earnings in the United Kingdom as a result of a revenue reset that occurred at the beginning of the new RIIO-ED1 price control period on April 1, 2015, and a lower average foreign currency exchange rate in 2016 compared to 1Q15, PPL said. 

Higher domestic margins from rate increases effective July 1, 2015, in Kentucky and Jan. 1, 2016, in Pennsylvania were partially offset by lower sales volumes due to mild winter weather, the company said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.