Pennsylvania Electric Utility PPL Chooses New Power Line Route

Monday December 19, 2011
Posted at 11:42
Tags: ppl

Some residential and commercial electric customers in northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos are expected to get improved electric service from a new power line that PPL Electric Utilities has decided to route through the region.

PPL said in a news release that it had considered public input and studied the region carefully before making its decision on where to route the line. According to The News Eagle, the route selected by the utility:

“… connects the new Paupack substation site near Lakeville, along a zig-zag course southwest in Paupack and Salem townships, between Route 590 and Lake Wallenpaupack. It rounds west of Ledgedale and west of Newfoundland, and heads west through Sterling Township into Lackawanna County meeting the new North Pocono substation. It then goes southwest to the new West Pocono substation near the Luzerne/Monroe county line west of Pocono Pines. Finally, it veers northwest through Luzerne County to the existing Jenkins substation near Wilkes-Barre. The existing transmission lines from Jessup to Honesdale will be rebuilt, and a small section from Cherry Ridge to Lakeville will receive additional wires.”

According to David Bonenberger, general manager of transmission operations for PPL, the new facilities are designed to reduce the number of power outages experienced by customers in the region and reduce the duration of outages caused by severe weather and falling trees.

Bonenberger said that, in choosing the location for the main 230-kilovolt power line and subsidiary 69-kilovolt power lines needed for the project, the electric utility conducted a months-long study of the region and conducted an extensive public input process to try and “minimize impacts on people and the environment to the extent possible.”

Bonenburger added that the region’s growth made the addition of new lines and power substations mandatory in order to deliver reliable electricity to homes and businesses. However, he said the utility would attend additional public open houses to take comments on the chosen route before submitting required applications to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the state’s utility regulator, for approval.

Detailed information about the project, including the location of the routes for new power lines and the location of new substations, has been mailed to property owners. The new facilities and can also be found online at www.pplreliablepower.com/Northeast-Pocono.

The new power lines and substations are expected to serve 250,000 electric customers in parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Wayne, Pike and Luzerne counties. The project is part of more than $3 billion in infrastructure improvements that PPL is making throughout its 29-county territory.

Sources

PPL Electric Utilities Chooses Route for New Power Line,” The News Eagle, Oct. 17, 2011.

PPL Electric Utilities Chooses Route for New Power Line in Northeast Pennsylvania and Pocono Region,” PPL Electric Utilities press release, Oct. 11, 2011.

PECO Residential Electric Customers Continue to Leave Utility

Friday November 11, 2011
Posted at 11:38

Pennsylvania residential electric customers are continuing to leave their electric utilities to join one of the state’s many alternative electric suppliers.

According to the most recent statistics from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and Energy Choice Matters, PECO lost 2,700 accounts to alternative electric suppliers from Oct. 2 to Oct. 8, compared with 2,500 accounts from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

Other electric utilities in the state also continued to see a steady stream of residential customers migrate to alternative electric suppliers, although at a slower pace. At West Penn Power, migration continued, but reduced from 1,400 during Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 to 1,000 during Oct. 2 through Oct. 8. In August, migration to alternative electric suppliers at West Penn Power was in the 4,000-customer range.

Migration also continued but slowed at Penelec, which lost 2,500 residential electric customers in early September but just 800 from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 and 650 from Oct. 2 to Oct. 8.

At PPL, migration slowed to 481 customers during the most recent week from 650 the previous week.

Sources

PPL Again Sees Net Decline in Residential Migration,” Energy Choice Matters, Oct. 13, 2011.

Pennsylvania Electric Utilities to Consider Longer-Term Fixed Rate Under New PUC Tentative Order

Friday November 4, 2011
Posted at 11:20
Tags: peco ppl

In Pennsylvania, the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is reconsidering how electric default service rates for residential and small commercial customers are adjusted.

Under current PUC guidelines, electric utilities such as PECO and PPL, which are known in the state as electric distribution companies (EDCs), adjust their default electricity rate quarterly, or once every three months. Under the tentative order from the PUC, EDCs would be required to adjust their default rate semi-annually, or once every six months.

The PUC’s tentative order, based on recommendations from the Commission’s investigation of the state’s retail market, is subject to a public comment period before final language is adopted. According to the tentative order, the PUC is weighing the benefits of six-month electricity rate and reconciliation adjustments versus three month adjustments.

The PUC’s tentative order is seeking comment on a series of recommendations that would go into effect June 1, 2013, when the EDCs’ next default service plans begin, which seek to align changes in retail market design with default service plans offered by EDCs.

Recommendations include filing default service plans that run for two years, limiting the proportion of long term contracts that make up default service plan energy portfolios — while avoiding mandating prescriptive contract lengths in portfolios — and incorporating an opt-in retail auction program within default service plans that would allow customers to indicate their willingness to be served by a retail electric supplier though an auction process. Other recommendations include incorporating a customer referral program within EDCs’ default service plans.

Sources

Pennsylvania PUC to Order Utilities to Consider Longer-Term Fixed Price,” Energy Choice Matters, Oct. 17, 2011.

Northeast Blizzard News

Monday October 31, 2011
Posted at 15:29

Some quick news on the snowstorm slamming the Northeast:

  • Anywhere from scattered traces to 30 inches of wet, heavy snow has been dropped from Maryland to Maine. Areas in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit, with 26-27 inches of snow dropped in Plainview and Windsor.
  • Power outages are widespread. More than 800,000 have lost power in Connecticut over the weekend. As of early today, 750,000 were still without power, along with around 400,000 in New Jersey, 200,000 in Pennsylvania and 270,000 in New York.
  • There have been fatalities associated with the snowstorm, with sources reporting between 10 to 12 deaths due to the weather. States of emergency have been declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and portions of New York.
  • Snow-laden trees falling have done more than just cut residential power delivery. Rail lines across the region have also been disrupted. Amtrak has suspended service on several routes, and one train from Chicago to Boston was stuck overnight in Massachusetts. A spokesperson said service would remain suspended until further notice from New Haven to Springfield; Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh; New Haven to St. Albans, Vt.; and between Albany and Boston.

A few other details on the surprise storm:

  • School districts across the region were forced to cancel or delay classes.
  • Some local officials have been forced to delay Halloween trick-or-treating, saying local sidewalks are unsafe due to fallen trees and power lines. Worcester, Massachusetts is asking parents to hold off on taking their children trick-or-treating until Thursday to give workers time to clear up fallen trees and power outages.
  • In a few ways, the damage from the storm could be long-term: New York City’s famed Central Park could lose up to 1,000 trees due to the storm, according to the group that manages the park.

To report outages in your area, click here for a full list of utility outage contact information.

Tips to Stay Safe and Warm

If you didn’t have a chance to winterize your home ahead of the storm, you’re probably not alone: given the early nature of this storm, lots of people were caught by surprise. Here are a few things you can do to stay safe and prevent additional damages to your home.

First off, keep your water pipes intact. One big concern on the part of lots of homeowners is preventing pipes from freezing and bursting. Make sure to set your faucets to drip, especially at night.

Right now, lots of people are looking to keep warm. If you are using a space heater or fireplace to keep your home warm, here are some safety tips:

  • Establish a three-foot safety radius around your heater, furnace, fireplace or space heater. That means that anything that can burn should be kept at least three feet from heating equipment. (The same goes for children and pets: the three-foot radius should be thought of as a kid-free zone.)
  • Make sure the screen in front of the fireplace is securely drawn to keep sparks from flying into the room.
  • It may be really tempting to use your gas oven for heating, especially if the electricity is out in your neighborhood. Don’t do it. Using an open oven in a closed house burns oxygen, thereby causing improper combustion of gas. The prolonged use of an open oven in a poorly ventilated house can result in carbon monoxide, which is odorless, invisible and potentially lethal.

Of course, the real challenge many New Englanders are facing right now is how to stay warm with the power out. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The first place to start: bundle up. Multiple layers of clothing, especially with wool or cotton, can help you retain heat. When you’re sitting still, wrap up in a quilt or blanket.
  • Stay in a smaller room in your home until power is restored.
  • Do you have curtains or blinds over the windows? Open them when the sun is shining, and close them when it isn’t.
  • Close off any unused rooms. Closing off any space between you and the outdoors amounts to a barrier between you and the frigid weather outside. It also reduces air circulation, which in turn reduces heat loss.
  • Roll up towels or shirts and stuff them into the bottom of doors or windows, or into any noticeable leaks.
  • If possible, put down a rug or carpet to create a bit of insulation for your floor.

Keep an eye on our blog for additional information on the storm.

Sources:

Winter Storm Slams US Northeast, Cancels Halloween” – GlobalPost.com, October 31, 2011.

Snowstorm Tangles Commutes in Northeast” – Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2011.

Early Snow Affects Millions” – Associated Press, October 30, 2011.

How to Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater” – Wikihow.com.

Heating Safety Tips” – National Fire Protection Association.


40 Percent of PPL Customers Have Switched Electric Suppliers Since 2010

Wednesday September 7, 2011
Posted at 08:11

Since the electric industry in Pennsylvania was deregulated at the beginning of 2010, almost 40 percent of PPL Electric Utilities’ residential customers have switched to an alternative retail electric supplier, according to data recently released by the state Public Utility Commission.

Before deregulation, PPL was a monopoly. Customers in PPL’s service territory, which stretches across six regions in the western half of Pennsylvania, were forced to buy electricity from the utility at regulated prices and the utility, in turn, was responsible for distributing electricity to customers’ homes.

After deregulation, other electric companies were allowed to compete with PPL and each other to sell electricity. Customers could choose to buy their electricity from PPL at regulated prices or switch to a retail electric supplier. Meanwhile, PPL was tasked with continuing to distribute electricity to residents in its territory, no matter where customers chose to buy it.

Today, customers in PPL’s service territory have the power to choose which company they buy electricity from, but not which company distributes the electricity to their homes.

Public Utility Commission spokeswoman Denise McCracken said that while the savings customers get by switching from PPL to retail electric suppliers may not look like much at first, the 500,000 customers who switched saved an average of $100 a year.

Sources

PPL Loses 40% of Its Residential Base Since Deregulation,” The Daily Item, Aug. 11, 2011.