ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

With the arrival of summer this weekend, PPL Electric Utilities promises that its customers will have reliable power to stay cool and comfortable during the hot and stormy months ahead.

Across its 29-county service territory, the company reports it is installing smart grid equipment, building new power lines and substations and trimming more trees to strengthen its system to meet summer demand and the expectations of customers.

“Our job is to keep reliability strong, so our customers can enjoy the activities of summer with friends and family and stay cool and comfortable,” said Sarah Fliszar, regional director of operations, in a news release.

“When you need air conditioning or a ceiling fan, or if your kids ask to bring out the ice cream maker or plug in a video game console, we’re there for you.”

PPL Electric Utilities works year-round to inspect and maintain its electric delivery system, which includes almost 400 substations and almost 50,000 miles of power lines.

Such work is especially important in the months leading up to summer and winter, the periods of peak electric demand among the company’s customers.

Every year the company also completes visual patrols and infrared thermal inspections of its overhead distribution lines as part of its overall maintenance program.

With 33,000 miles of aerial distribution lines, PPL Electric Utilities scans portions of its system to identify needed maintenance before summer. Animal guards and lightning protection equipment also aere installed to prevent service interruptions.

“Our customers benefit from our strong focus on reliability,” Fliszar said.

Last year, the number of power outages across PPL Electric Utilities service territory was down by nine percent compared to the average of the previous three years, according to the utility.

The average duration of power outages was down by 11 percent last year and tree-related outages were down by 43 percent. Trees too close to power lines are a major cause of outages for customers.

Customers are also benefiting from the addition of smart equipment around PPL Electric Utilities’ service territory. The technology detects power outages faster and allows PPL to respond more quickly to restore customers even before repairs are made.

Since 2012, the company reported, "our customers have experienced 38 percent fewer outages in areas where smart grid is deployed."

During the late May storm that affected the Lancaster-Harrisburg area, for example, the company said customers with smart grid experienced faster restoration times than other customers.

PPL Electric Utilities installs more smart grid equipment every year to improve service to customers across its system.

In the Lehigh Valley region, recent major reliability projects have included:

• Installing 172 thicker, taller poles and stronger wires, and doing extra tree clearing to make the electric delivery system more resistant to storms. About 7,000 customers in the southern Lehigh County communities of Coopersburg and Lower Milford, Milford and Upper Saucon townships will benefit from those improvements.

• A new substation in west Trexlertown, providing new capacity and improving reliability for more than 3,000 customers in the Trexlertown-Breinigsville area.

• A new substation in Trumbauersville that provided new capacity and significant reliability benefits to more than 4,500 customers in East Rockhill, Milford, Richland and West Rockhill townships and Trumbauersville.

• A new substation and rebuilt lines in Plainfield Township that will provide significant reliability improvements to customers in Pen Argyl and Lower Mount Bethel, Plainfield and Washington townships.

• Construction of two new lines from the Pointe North substation in Bethlehem Township. These new lines provide new capacity and reliability improvements to more than 2,200 customers in Bethlehem, Hanover and Lower Nazareth townships.

• Construction of a new substation in Springfield Township, Bucks County, and completion of the Coopersburg-Quakertown transmission line, improving service for 50,000 customers in Bethlehem, Lower Saucon, Richland, Salisbury, Springfield, Upper Saucon and West Rockhill townships as well as the boroughs of Coopersburg, Perkasie and Quakertown.

PPL Electric Utilities crews in this region are completing the following projects this year to improve service to customers:

• Rebuilding a transmission line that serves Emmaus. The new stronger and taller poles and the newly widened right of way will make it much less likely that a storm will cause a prolonged power outage for Emmaus-area customers.

• Rebuilding a new line from the company’s East Greenville substation to provide new capacity to the area. The project will improve service reliability for about 3,000 customers in Upper Hanover Township and the boroughs of East Greenville and Pennsburg.