Power Upgrade Meant To Keep The Lights On

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WAYNE COUNTY -- After several widespread power outages had people in the dark for days in recent years, PPL is taking action hoping to prevent long term outages.

The power company is making its biggest upgrade since the 1970s: $1 billion to improve reliability, especially in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A crew working for PPL is installing new lines in Throop, Lackawanna County.  Similar projects are underway in Monroe, Pike, Wayne and Susquehanna Counties. It's all part of a massive billion dollar upgrade to the PPL electric system.

"It's a huge investment for PPL. We're doing stuff we haven't done in 20, 30 years," said Rich Beasley, PPL spokesperson.

The upgrade comes after Hurricane Sandy left trees and wires down all over the place, tens of thousands of homes and businesses were in the dark for days, including parts of Wayne County. That's not the only reason for the PPL upgrade, but part of it.

"Here it was a big issue, said Louis Marcello of Lori's Corner Kitchen."We had no water, nothing, completely out for two days."

Power at Lori's Corner Kitchen in Hamlin has been knocked out by several storms recently.

"We suffer from the beginning with the power, so it's nice to hear they're doing something for the small businesses."

"Yeah, we're happy, some of the people on my road, Savitz Road, they were out for two weeks," said Ed Franzone.

Franzone of Hamlin knows in these rural areas, power outages can be pretty common.

"It went out last night and three seconds later it came back on."

PPL says this is just like being out on the road.  If you're driving and you run into a road block, you find another way around.  They're doing the same thing with electricity.  If there's an outage, they want there to be more ways to get the power back to your house.

"We look at our system and we ask ourselves, 'where are the areas where the customers are hit the most and are out of power the longest?'  We focus on those areas with new lines and upgrading the old lines," Beasley said.

While there are a lot of visible improvements, new computer systems will also be able to automatically reroute electricity.

"The technology changes year to year and we want to be on top of that technology so when we do get a Hurricane Sandy come through that we can try to make sure our customers are out the shortest amount that's possible," added Beasley.

PPL says all the work on these upgrades should be done by November, with all the benefits of the more reliable power grid in place next year.