Project should bring more consumer benefit to drilling

One of the complaints about the natural gas industry burgeoning presence in our region is that all the drilling has not led to enough direct benefits to local consumers.

Whether that’s true or not, perhaps an initiative announced last week by PPL will improve the direct benefit aspect of `gas drilling.

PPL wants to spend billions of dollars to build a 725-mile system of electric transmission lines that will bring energy from the natural gas fields to customers over much of the Eastern Seaboard.

The 500-kilovolt line would span much of Pennsylvania and reach into New York, New Jersey and Maryland. The cost is expected to exceed $4 billion and the network will take more than a decade to build. The prospective map for the network cuts through the rural northern tier of our region and also includes a line that branches south through the Susquehanna River corridor.

Plans include development of PPL power plants along the route that would be fueled by natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.

The increased supply of energy will increase reliability during demand-driven power shortages.

But most importantly, the power supply closer to home could reduce costs for local consumers.

Besides the jobs and positive economic churn that gas drilling provides, consumer cost savings are the third leg that should logically come from the proximity to the drilling. This project, though a long way from the finish line, would bolster that aspect of the gas drilling presence in our region.