Investments paying off with greater reliability: A 20-20 look at how PPL Electric Utilities is improving its system

With every new power line, pole and piece of automated equipment, PPL Electric Utilities’ investments are making a difference in reliability for customers.

The utility invested $4.7 billion over the past decade to improve its electric delivery system, and will invest another $5.7 billion over the next five years as it continues to renew, strengthen and modernize the network. It’s the largest investment of its kind since the 1960s and 1970s.

According to the latest reliability statistics, the work and investments have already had a positive effect on the system. Customers are seeing a steady decline in the number of outages, and more improvements are in store.

On average, customers are experiencing 20 percent fewer outages today than in 2007 — when PPL Electric Utilities embarked on one of the largest reliability improvement programs in its history. It expects to have another 20 percent improvement by 2019.

Trees are the biggest cause of storm-related outages, and the company’s expanded trimming and clearing program is also making a difference. As a result, tree-related outages are on the way down — 18 percent fewer in 2014 compared to the average of the previous 10 years.

Some of the key reliability projects aimed at making the system stronger and more storm-resistant include:

  • Installing smart grid equipment, which improves reliability by sensing power outages and rerouting power around the damage — restoring many customers even before repairs are made. In areas where the equipment has been installed, it has reduced outage durations by an average of 30 percent.
  • Moving inaccessible lines closer to roadways and dividing lines into sections to reduce the number of outages customers experience on certain circuits.
  • Stepping up removal of trees and tree limbs, to keep them away from power lines, has resulted in fewer customers affected by storms than just a few years ago.
  • Installing stronger, more weather-resistant poles, replacing aging equipment, and installing animal guards to prevent outages caused by squirrels.

The investments are about making sure the system that serves millions of people each day is strong for future generations.

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