When there’s a problem — or a fault — on a power line, it can cause power outages for our customers. But thanks to a game-changing new system, these problems impact fewer customers than ever. The new system, created by our own engineering teams and vendor partners, uses smart devices that interrupt faults remotely. They’re called “vacuum reclosers.”
We place them on power lines to monitor the flow of electricity. When a sensor on a line detects a problem, the nearest recloser automatically cuts power from that point in the line. Instead of every customer on the line losing power, only customers downstream of the recloser device are impacted. Then, our crews work as safely and quickly as possible to restore power to everyone who is out.
In November 2021, we installed the first vacuum recloser on a transmission line and plan to install more of these devices at locations that will provide the most benefit to our customers.
This is just one example of our commitment to innovate and invest in technologies that improve reliability.
Let’s be honest. There are certain times of year when we use more electricity than usual. Winter – with all its heating and holiday baking – is one of those times.
If you don’t want to get surprised by a larger-than-normal electricity bill, consider smoothing out your payments to make them more predictable.
Budget billing is available to everyone, even if you’re already on a payment agreement.
Here are the details:
We’ll take the average of your electricity use over the past 12 months to determine your monthly budget amount. If you’ve lived in your current location for less than six months, we’ll estimate your use based on your household information.
Every three months, we’ll look back at your use and, if necessary, adjust your budget amount. If you’re using more electricity than expected, your bill might increase. If you’re using less, it might be lower.
After 12 months, we’ll settle the difference between your actual energy use and the amount you were billed.
Sign up for more predictable payments and peace of mind at pplelectric.com/budget.
We work every day to keep your electric bills as low as possible. But paying any bill — especially these days — isn’t fun. That’s why we want you to know what you get for your energy dollar.
Let’s start with one of the most important aspects of our jobs: providing reliable electric service. Our electric grid consists of thousands of miles of poles and wires that deliver electricity to your homes, as well as the state-of-the-art technologies that manage them. Every year, we invest in systems and activities to keep our grid on the leading edge so we can keep your lights on.
Here are just three examples of the many reliability initiatives underway throughout our 29-county service territory.
Fallen tree branches are the number one cause of storm-related power outages. That’s why our crews work hard to identify, trim and remove trees and tree limbs before they cause problems. Our maintenance program is designed so we can trim the right trees at the right times to prevent outages. We use data to identify the areas that have the highest probability of tree-related damage and act accordingly.
Smart Grid Investments
Back in the day, when there was an outage on one of our lines, most customers on that damaged line lost power. Now, thanks to an impressive combination of automated sensors and switches, coupled with an advanced software system, our grid can reroute power automatically to limit the number of customers impacted by an outage. Plus, the system can shorten outage duration. That means an outage that once could have lasted hours becomes a momentary blip. You might have to reset your digital clocks, but you won’t have to break out your flashlights.
Every day, we proactively monitor the thousands of miles of lines that deliver electricity to our Pennsylvania customers. We’re looking for trouble spots, equipment damage and any other issues that could cause you to lose power. We rely on our dedicated crew to identify and report issues, but for some of our assets we also use unique methods, like camera-equipped drones, to keep an eye out for problems. Drones capture images of lines and transformers. They do thermal imaging to catch hotspots that can signal future problems. They also improve our vegetation management program by measuring the distance from trees to power lines, allowing us to schedule trimming before it’s too late.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. To stay up to date on our reliability investments, follow us on social media.
We’re committed to delivering an effortless customer experience, whether we chat on social media, speak over the phone, or interact with you on our website. We’re also committed to continuous learning and improvement. So, when we received customer feedback regarding accessibility issues with our website, we took action.
Here’s what we learned:
- A legally blind customer made us aware that she was having difficulty using her screen reader to pay her bill online.
- Another customer with red and green colorblindness was having difficulty interpreting certain message banners on our website.
Here’s what we’re doing about it:
- Updating our online bill pay section to better support those who are visually impaired.
- To help overcome the color hurdle, we’re testing and implementing designs that use larger icons, which are more noticeable and legible for users with colorblindness.
Taking it a step further:
- We’ll continue checking-in with customers who have disabilities and design our website with accessibility in mind.
- We’re establishing panels of customers who can provide us guidance and insight on accessibility issues as we’re making routine improvements to the website.
We’re continuously learning from customers who access our website differently, so we can make the web experience inclusive for all.
Reliability means you can be confident that when you flip the switch, your lights will come on.
It means that if a storm knocks out your power, our smart grid will react to limit the size of the affected area and reroute power to get your lights back on quickly while we make repairs. Sometimes that outage will be so short you won’t even realize it happened.
We pride ourselves on the reliability of our power grid – a grid with millions of parts serving a land area larger than New Jersey. But that reliability doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s the result of constant investment, innovation, and invention.
Here’s a peek at a couple of industry leading innovations that are keeping our grid reliable for you.
We recently received patents for innovations designed to increase reliability. The purpose of our patents – to benefit our customers – is what makes us most proud.
One of our patents was for work that allowed older grid equipment to help reroute power and keep the lights on in the early days of our smart grid rollout.
We continue to replace this older equipment, and the system developed continues to boost reliability.
Another patent is for a device that increases the lifespan of our poles by allowing other attachments, like phone and cable wires, to be attached without drilling nearly as many holes in the pole. That helps poles last longer.
We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve your service at the right cost. That’s PPL value.