Power line poles being placed on the ridge line near Hawley in the past week are part of the $630 million Susquehanna- Roseland transmission line project meant to vastly upgrade capacity and reduce power outages, said Paul Wirth, PPL spokesman.
Easily visible from Bingham Park and Columbus Avenue, Hawley, the new poles average 175 feet, more than twice the height of the 85-foot steel lattice structures that held the lines for decades. Some new poles are 198 feet high, depending on the needs of the topography. The new poles are hollow steel tubes, and meet modern design standards.
Wirth said that the steel lattice structures are 85 years old. They have been carrying electricity on that route since the 1920's. The line links with the Lake Wallenpaupack power plant at Kimbles, which went online in 1926.
The poles visible from part of downtown Hawley pass through Middle Creek Quarry.
The power line route stretches 145 miles, from the PPL nuclear power plant at Berwick, PA to Roseland, NJ. The project is being done in sections. The section between Peckville and Hawley is expected to be done by the end of October 2013. Further west, the construction will finish after October.
A short section that cuts through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Bushkill will start in September. The path the upgraded line would take through the National Park was the focus of long negotiations, and finally was kept to the current right-of-way.
The final part of the 101-mile Pennsylvania portion, between Lake Wallenpaupack and Bushkill, will be installed in 2014.
PPL's counterpart in New Jersey, PSEG, is responsible for the rest of route in their state.
The power lines maintains the same right-of-way for about 95 percent of the route. In just a few places, new towers will be put up alongside the old line. The reason the new towers are so high, Wirth stated, is that they will carry an additional line and spacing is required between them. They will carry a line with the current 230 KV capacity and a new line carrying 500 KV.
By having them on the same pole, there is less impact on the surrounding line. In most areas, the right-of-way kept the same 200-foot width.
During tower construction, power is rerouted around that site with temporary poles.
It is due to be online by September 2015.
Local 1319 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union is coordinating the manpower with a variety of contractors.
Wirth said that the Susquehanna- Roseland project is designed to give more reliable electrical service to the regional grid. The increased capacity will aid in preventing overloads at peak times on hot summer days, lowering the risk of brown-outs and blackouts.
The independent regional power grid operator, PJM Interconnection, ordered the new line to prevent overloads on other existing power lines.
Page 2 of 2 - The $630 million price reflects the cost in Pennsylvania. Previously the cost was approximately $560 million. Delays and concurrent increase of construction and material costs are cited.
While the cost of the project is reflected in utility bills, Wirth noted that only about five percent is raised from PPL customers, Wirth said. The project benefits a wide power grid, with the cost spread out among 55 million customers in 13 states.
For more information on the project, visit online at www.pplreliablepower.com/projectupdates.htm.