Utility addresses service upgrades

PPL Electric Utilities officials claim customers are receiving more reliable service these days thanks to efforts made toward preventing power outages. The number and length of outages each declined significantly during the past year, according to PPL President Greg Dudkin.

“The message is we are doing quite a bit,” he told the Sun-Gazette Friday.

Among the actions taken to improve service have included trimming more trees around power lines and installing more equipment. In addition, state-of-the art equipment, he noted, has replaced much of the utility company’s aging infrastructure in recent years.

“We are making the system more robust,” he said.

Efforts have been taken to pinpoint areas of more frequent power outages and animal guards are being added to equipment to prevent intrusions from squirrels, birds and other creatures. In addition, the ability to restore power and detect outages with remote-controlled devices is providing more reliable service.

“We are doing quite a bit to keep the level of service,” Dudkin said.

Dudkin said PPL has a cooperative agreement with other utility companies to respond in times of emergencies.

“Our goal is to be the best utility in the country,” he said.

Utility crews will be working on a number of projects in PPL’s 29-county service territory this year. A line prone to flooding at the Thomas C. Styer Farm & Market is being relocated to along John Brady Drive and two other roads to provide a more direct feed to Muncy Valley Hospital and 1,700 customers in the community. PPL officials acknowledged that many customers are absorbing higher electrical rates during what has been one of the region’s coldest winters on record.

“We have electrical supply companies we buy from,” Dudkin said, noting that many of those suppliers have variable rates.

But customers can still save money by picking from among many of PPL’s other suppliers, he said.

“We don’t own any energy at all,” he said.

PPL Electric Utilities is a subsidiary of PPL Corp. and provides electric delivery to about 1.4 million customers in the region.