- PPL Electric Utilities has completed work on the $350 million Northeast-Pocono Reliability Project, a transmission expansion to enhance reliability of electricity delivery and reduce outages for a five county region in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains, the Associated Press reports.
- The project went online ahead of its planned late-2017 completion, PPL officials said, despite challenges with securing a route for the transmission. The project was approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission over landowner protests in early 2014.
- This project's completion comes after PPL finished work on its $648 million Susquehanna-Roseland line last year. The utility also filed with New York regulators in October 2015 for approval of of another line — Project Compass — that would link the PJM Interconnection and the New York Independent System Operator grids.
The Northeast-Pocono project required three new substations and almost 60 miles of new 230 kV line, according to PPL, as well as several short segments of 69 kV line. It is PPL's second completion of a major transmission project in as many years.
The 150-mile, $1.4 billion, 500 kV alternating current Roseland-Susquehanna line was brought online by PSE&G and PPL on schedule in May 2015. The project exemplifies the complicated analysis utility and grid system planners must undertake to select cost-effective investments, PA Consulting's Ron Norman told Utility Dive after construction commenced in 2014.
The uncertainties in today's energy marketplace require that transmission investments meet two key criteria, he said: Flexibility and cost-justifiability. Roseland-Susquehanna satisfied cost-benefit analyses by relieving long-standing transmission congestion. Its flexibility allowed it to remain viable despite the sharp drop in natural gas prices in the region.
PPL's next proposed project, the 475-mile Project Compass 345 kV line, would extend from southeastern New York into western Pennsylvania at a cost of $3 billion to $4 billion. The New York ISO filing was for approval of the first 95-mile, $500 million section of the line, which PPL hopes to have in service by 2023 and expects will save New York ratepayers an estimated $200 million in transmission congestion costs.