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PPL talks improvements one year after Superstorm Sandy

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 28 2013 05:00:17 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 29 2013 07:39:37 AM CDT

PPL upgrades distribution system following Superstorm Sandy

Just one year ago, we were all bracing ourselves for the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

The storm lived up to its name,  turning out the lights and the heat for large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard.

Utility crews worked tirelessly to restore power for weeks on end, but officials say when the lights were back on is when the real work began.

"There were particularly long outages for customers in the Emmaus area and also in the Lehigh University area of Bethlehem," said Paul Wirth, spokesperson for PPL Electric Utilities.

Crews worked around the clock to get power restored to all areas but the work didn't stop once the lights were back on.

"We're rebuilding power lines, we're adding second sources of power in order to prevent that from happening again," added Wirth.

The company is finishing the first year of a five-year, $3.8 billion project to "storm harden" the system.

This includes system upgrades and tree trimming.

"Tree trimming is a major improvement because it's a major cause of outages," said Wirth.

The tree trimming will last throughout the project, but a spokesperson says also look for crews installing stronger poles.

"That's how you make a line less vulnerable to storms," added Wirth. "It's possible that people will see our crews installing switches and circuit breakers so that we can more quickly to restore power to certain sections of line."

The question is will all of this work will mean more money for rate payers? The short answer is yes.

"To offset that we are working very hard to become more efficient, reduce our operating cost to help offset the increase for customers," said Wirth.

The real test will come when another storm hits the area.