Sticking with its strategy of adding electric generating capability in key U.S. markets, PPL Corp. yesterday unveiled plans to build a 540 MW power plant near Chicago and, separately, to increase the capacity of its Susquehanna nuclear plant in Pennsylvania by 100 MW.

PPL said that the Illinois plant will be a 540 MW, simple-cycle, natural gas-fired electric generation facility. “Our development of a plant in the Chicago area is a natural extension of PPL’s generation expansion strategy, which primarily focuses on the Northeastern and Western regions of the U.S.,” said William F. Hecht, the utility’s CEO.

According to Hecht, the Illinois facility is expected to cost about $305 million and be accretive to PPL earnings in its first year of operation. The Illinois facility is expected to be in service by the summer of 2002. Also, the plant will be built in an industrial park with close access to natural gas and high-voltage transmission lines.

On a separate track, the company also will increase the capacity of its Susquehanna nuclear plant in Luzerne County, PA, by 100 MW with the installation of more efficient steam turbines on each of the two units. The new turbines, which will replace units that have been in operation since the early 1980s, will be installed in the spring of 2003 and 2004 during refueling outages at the plant. The $120 million of improvements at the Susquehanna plant are expected to be accretive to earnings as soon as they go into operation.

“While this is a comparatively small addition to our generating mix, it does provide us with more very low-cost electricity to sell in one of the nation’s largest power markets,” Hecht said. “This is a very effective way to add generation at a well-run facility,” he added.

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