As promised after storms disabled the regional power grid three times in 2011, PPL Electric Utilities on Thursday announced the start of a $35 million project to upgrade its distribution system in southern and western Berks County and parts of Lancaster and Chester counties.
During public hearings in Harrisburg and Reading this year called by state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, and state Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, a Reading Democrat, PPL officials promised an overall $3 billion upgrade to its electric grid, which covers parts of Berks and 29 other counties.
Electric customers in the project area are served by a network of 69-kilovolt transmission lines that are nearing their capacity, PPL officials said.
The investment represents nearly a 50 percent increase over what it spent last year on new transmission lines, poles and substations, the company announced Friday.
More than 400,000 PPL customers lost power in August after the remnants of Hurricane Irene swept through eastern Pennsylvania. And an October snowstorm cut power to 388,000 PPL customers, nearly half of whom were in the Lehigh Valley. Nearly 10,000 in the Lehigh Valley had no electricity for six days after the snow.