Work is ongoing to construct a PPL Electric Utilities substation in Upper Allen Township.
The new 230/69-kilovolt Williams Grove Substation located off Fisher Road will be part of a larger project that will include two new 69-kV transmission lines running north from the substation to meet existing lines just north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Customers in Cumberland County currently receive the bulk of their electric power supply from multiple 230-kV lines that provide power to two regional transmission substations, the Cumberland and Rossmoyne substations. This project is designed to help provide backup and redirect support for those substations.
PPL Regional Affairs Director Jess Long Baker said the goal is to complete the Williams Grove Substation by fall 2018, with landscaping completed by 2019. PPL plans to start work on the two transmission lines in the spring, though Baker said PPL is still negotiating with two landowners in the township for the path of that line.
“With the line, we still have two landowners we need to work out a deal with,” Baker said. “We don’t have a signed easement agreement with them yet. We will negotiate until the point where we feel there can’t be any deal. As public utility, we do have the power of eminent domain, which basically means it goes to a judge for a ruling and a price is determined.”
Some township residents raised concerns in May about the proposed transmission lines running out of the substation. Barry Strock, a farmer in Upper Allen Township, told ABC27 then that the original proposal for the line extensions crossed straight through his property. Baker said PPL and the Strocks worked out a deal to solve that issue.
“Originally PPL wanted to go directly through the center of this farm,” Strock told ABC27 in May. “And we were very against that.”
Baker said PPL canceled in summer 2016 a proposed transmission line project for Cumberland County that would have connected the Williams Grove substation with a station in Silver Spring Township.
Crews began digging in early fall at the Williams Grove Substation site located off Fisher Road in the township. Baker said the estimated cost for both the substation and the two new Williams Grove-Mechanicsburg power lines is $51 million.
“That land used be what we refer to as the Eberly Farm,” Upper Allen Township Manager Lou Fazekas said. “There had been plans to develop it sometime down road, but I think that backed off some. PPL bought a 40-acre track of land there.”
Baker said the facility will feature a lot of transformers and the power lines coming in to the substation. The substation will take existing 203kV power lines and step them down to 69 kV lines for the local transmission system.
“There is a line running above the turnpike feeding a lot customers off one line,” Baker said. “Anything happen on that line and it would cause an outage for a lot of people. These two lines will go up there, break that line in half.”