The Pennsylvania Electric Co. (Penelec) plans to spend nearly $6 million to construct new power lines and to rebuild some existing ones, in part to support the Mariner East Pipeline, a project by Sunoco Logistics Partners LP to transport natural gas liquids (NGL) from the Marcellus and Utica shales to a former oil refinery in Marcus Hook, PA.

Penelec -- a FirstEnergy Corp. electric utility that serves approximately 600,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties -- said its projects will also improve service reliability for approximately 3,000 electricity customers in the region. The utility said support for Mariner East was part of its continuing "efforts to help support Pennsylvania's shale gas industry."

The utility said it plans to build 15 miles of new distribution lines from its existing substations in McConnellstown and Blain to provide power to NGL pumping stations under construction in Marcklesburg and Doylesburg. The projects will include installing wire, electrical equipment and more than 300 new steel, wood and laminate poles. McConnellstown and Marcklesburg are both in Huntingdon County, while Blain and Doylesburg are both in Perry County.

Penelec said the work is expected to be completed later this summer. Once complete, the utility's system will be able to handle the approximately 2.8 MW in new electric load that the NGL pumping stations are expected to require once operational. Penelec said the projects will also help improve service reliability to its customers in Blain, Jackson Borough, Toboyne Township, Walker Township and Penn Township.

"With the natural gas industry bringing new employment and business development opportunities to Pennsylvania, these types of infrastructure upgrades will help us meet the growing demand for safe and reliable electric service now and in the future," said Scott Wyman, regional president for Penelec.

The work is part of FirstEnergy's plans to invest approximately $221 million this year on service reliability infrastructure enhancements and transmission projects in Penelec's service area.

Sunoco is reportedly considering a third NGL pipeline from the Appalachian Basin to Marcus Hook, a former oil refinery that's being repurposed for NGL storage, processing and distribution to local, domestic and international markets (see Shale DailyJune 4Dec. 5, 2013). Propane deliveries began on the Mariner East 1 pipeline last December. Meanwhile, a successful open season for Mariner East 2 was completed last November (see Daily GPINov. 6, 2014).