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Pennsylvania utility commission approves PPL plan to upgrade distribution system


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Pennsylvania utility commission approves PPL plan to upgrade distribution system

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved long-term infrastructure improvement plans for PPL Electric Utilities Corp. and UGI Utilities Inc., which lay out the path each utility will take to replace aging equipment across the state.

In a 5-0 vote, the PUC on Dec. 21 approved Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plans, or LTIIPs, for PPL and UGI pursuant to a state statute referred to as Act 11 of 2012, which allows utilities to use a distribution system improvement charge to speed up infrastructure improvements. Since the act went into effect in 2012, the PUC has approved LTIIPs that resulted in $2.3 billion of infrastructure investments through the end of 2016.

This is the second LTIIP submitted by PPL since the act went into effect. The company estimates that 94%, or $705 million, of the requested funds have been spent from that first plan, with approximately $46 million in underspending. The company's reliability performance has continued to improve through the first LTIIP period, which ran from 2013 through 2017. Completed projects include pole replacements and reinforcements, capacitor installations, transformer replacements, animal guarding and other reliability projects.

PPL's new plan now approved by the commission covers 2018 through 2022 and proposes spending of $903.13 million. The priority will be on repairing and replacing the company's distribution system, much of which is estimated to be 40 or more years old. Projects will include copper wire, substation and underground cable replacements, and other projects.

UGI's plan proposes to accelerate spending by $39.8 million over five years starting in 2018 and ending in 2022. Projects will include replacing or improving poles and towers, overhead and underground conductors, transformers and substation equipment, insulators, circuit breakers and other equipment.