PPL Electric Utilities grid reliability in top 10 percent nationally

A PPL Electric Utilities lineworker installs smart grid equipment on distribution lines.

From PPL Electric Utilities

Electric service reliability for PPL Electric Utilities customers is ranked in the top 10 percent nationally and first in the Mid-Atlantic region, according to a key reliability measure from a national engineering association.

Figures for 2017 performance from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) show PPL in sixth place nationally among 93 utilities when measured on the frequency of outages on its system.

“A combination of investments in smart grid technology, in upgrading power lines, poles and other equipment, and in comprehensive tree trimming and clearing have paved the way for this continued improvement,” said PPL Electric Utilities President Greg Dudkin. “We continue to use technology to help us work smarter and more efficiently, whether it’s using big data to help drive improvements or studying how best to approach the growing appetite for distributed energy resources like solar, the customer experience remains our focus. The communities we serve depend on us. Our job is to keep delivering for them.”

The average PPL customer saw well below one power outage of five minutes or more over the course of the year. Last year was the most reliable in PPL’s history. Compared to 2007, PPL customers experienced a total of 550,000 fewer interruptions in 2017.

Power quality and reliability are top factors in customer satisfaction. Among large utilities nationally, PPL Electric Utilities ranked third in customer satisfaction on that topic, according to a recent national survey.

PPL Electric Utilities provides electric delivery service to more than 1.4 million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania and ranks among the best utility companies in the country for customer service and reliability. PPL Electric Utilities is a major employer in the communities it serves. It is a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL). For more information visit PPL’s website

Benefits Open Enrollment 2019: What You Need to Know

From ChamberChoice

Open enrollment can be a complicated process, especially if decisions surrounding the employee benefits plan selections are delayed. To make matters more interesting, there are legal changes affecting the design and administration of benefits for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019, says Aaron Ochs, managing consultant at JRG Advisors.

In addition, if any changes are made to your company’s health plan benefits for the 2019 plan year, those changes should be communicated to plan participants through an updated Summary Plan Description or a Summary of Material Modifications. Employers should confirm that open enrollment materials contain the required participant notices, when applicable. Some participant notices also must be provided annually or upon initial enrollment.

With the assistance of a knowledgeable benefits professional, employers should thoroughly review plan documents to confirm they include any required changes in adherence to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Smart Business spoke with Ochs about a few important plan design considerations to carefully review at open enrollment.

What’s important to understand about grandfathered status, the ACA affordability standard and out-of-pocket maximums?

Grandfathered plan status — If an employer has a grandfathered plan, it needs to determine whether it will maintain its grandfathered status for the 2019 plan year. A grandfathered plan’s status affects its ACA compliance obligations from year to year. If an employer’s plan will maintain its grandfathered status, then the Notice of Grandfathered Status should be provided in the open enrollment materials. If the plan is losing its grandfathered status, the employer should confirm that the plan includes all of the additional patient rights and benefits required by the ACA.

ACA affordability standard — Currently under the ACA, an applicable large employer’s health coverage is considered affordable if the employees’ required contribution does not exceed 9.5 percent of their household income for the taxable year. For plan years that begin on or after Jan. 1, 2019, the affordability percentage is 9.86 percent. Employers should ensure that at least one of the health plans offered satisfies the ACA’s affordability standard. Since the percentage increases from 2018, employers could have additional flexibility to increase the employee share of the premium while still avoiding a penalty under the pay or play rules.

Out-of-pocket maximum — Employers should review the out-of-pocket maximum of their health plan to ensure that it complies with the ACA’s limits for the 2019 plan year. The limits for 2019 are $7,900 for self-only coverage and $15,800 for family coverage.

It is important to remember that a high deductible health plan (HDHP) must be compatible with a health savings account (HSA), and the out-of-pocket maximum must be lower than the ACA’s limit. The out-of-pocket maximum for HDHPs beginning in 2019 is $6,750 for self-only coverage and $13,500 for family coverage.

If the employer’s plan utilizes multiple service providers to administer benefits, it should ensure that the plan coordinates all claims for essential health benefits across the plan’s service providers, or that the plan divides the out-of-pocket maximum across the categories of benefits, with a combined limit that does not exceed the maximum for 2019.

How are the HDHP and HSA limits changing?

The IRS limits for HSA contributions and HDHP cost sharing are increasing for 2019. The HSA contribution limit increases from $3,450 to $3,500 effective Jan. 1, 2019. Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019, the HDHP maximum out-of-pocket limit increases from $6,650 to $6,750 for self-only coverage and from $13,300 to $13,500 for family coverage. Employers should review their HDHP’s cost sharing limits and determine if an adjustment is required to meet the 2019 limits

If an employer communicates HSA contribution limits to its employees as part of the open enrollment process, the enrollment materials should be updated to reflect the increased limits that apply for 2019.

Williams Celebrates Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project

Williams recently held a reception to thank all of the supports and contractors of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project.

With the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline going into service in mid-October, Williams recently held a reception in Hershey to thank the supporters of the project, which included the Columbia Montour Chamber, as well as the contractors who worked on the project. Company representatives reported that approximately nine million man hours were spent constructing the 195 miles of pipeline and two compressor stations, including one in Columbia County. The extremely wet conditions, including flooding in a number of areas, did not extend the project’s timeline.

Land restoration will continue into the spring of 2019.

Online Permitting Portal Bill Becomes Law

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Act 107 of 2018 (formerly H.B. 1284) brought a welcomed and overdue reform to the permitting process in Pennsylvania when it was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last week.  The measure directs the state Department of Community and Economic Development to create a one-stop-shop online permitting portal for businesses, in order to help streamline and bring efficiency to existing permitting processes.

The PA Chamber advocated in support of this measure as one bill within a broader legislative package of much-needed regulatory reforms, and had previously communicated to lawmakers that recent efforts to employ e-permitting within the Department of Environmental Protection have been met with success, including improved permit review times.  “We have been encouraged so far with the results achieved by the Department of Environmental Protection moving to e-permitting in a number of their programs,” the PA Chamber wrote in a memo issued last month.  “Additional deployment and use of this type of technology across all of DEP’s permit programs … will allow for better use of taxpayer resources and improve consistency and regulatory certainty for the business community.”

Member News – November 7, 2018

Member News

  • Commonwealth Health – Berwick Hospital Center will hold an open house and community hernia screening from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 8. The open house will include tours of the hospital and blood pressure checks, informational stations on Berwick Retirement Village and the hospital services, and a meet-and-greet with the primary care physicians affiliated with Berwick Medical Professionals. An educational session and hernia screenings – both free to the public – will be offered at this time by general surgeons who are on staff at Berwick Hospital. Light refreshments will be served. Anyone interested in scheduling a hernia screening is asked to call 570-354-6515 or visit MyBerwickHerniaSeminar.com. Berwick Hospital Center is located at 701 East 16th St., Berwick. 


  • Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital will once again offer a complimentary meal for veterans on Thursday, Nov. 8 in the GBH dining room. There will be four separate seatings – at 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m., and the meal is complimentary for all U.S. veterans and one guest. Join GBH as they celebrate the service of our veterans to the U.S. Because seating is limited each hour, reservations are required. Call 570-387-2145 today to reserve your seat(s). The buffet dinner includes carved roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, green beans, beverages and cake and ice cream. 


  • The Ronald McDonald House of Danville will host an Open House tomorrow, Nov. 8, from 5-7 p.m. Light appetizers, refreshments and house tours will be provided. This is mainly an opportunity for any individuals interested in seeing the House that haven’t previously, as well as a chance for interested people to learn more about the House as well as opportunities for volunteerism. The RMHD is located at 100 N. Academy Ave. and Trembulak Way in Danville on the campus of Geisinger. If interested in attending, please RSVP to Ginnetta Reed at 570-271-7939 or email


  • The Penn State World Campus has a few upcoming information webinars during the month of November for those interested in learning more about classes and degrees from Penn State’s online classes. Tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 8, from 9-10:30 p.m., there will be a virtual open house for military in which participants can meet staff and learn about the process for applying for and earning an undergraduate degree through the PSU World Campus. Next Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 8-9 p.m., there will be an undergraduate admissions and career services webinar for perspective PSU World Campus undergraduate students interested in learning about the World Campus experience and career services offered to students. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 12-1 p.m., there will be a webinar to learn more about the Master’s in Professional Studies, applied demography degree. It will focus on how the program is designed for working professionals, and how it focuses on concepts, measures, data, software and analytical skills used in the public and private sectors. Finally, on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 12-1 p.m., there will be a Master of Science in Nusing (MSN) informational webinar for those interested in the nurse administrator or nurse educator options of Penn State’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. As a reminder, employees of all Columbia Montour Chamber members, their spouses and dependents are eligible for a 5% discount on tuition through the PSU World Campus. 


  • The Berwick Elks Lodge 1138 will host a ceremony and dinner for Veterans Day on Sunday, Nov. 11 beginning at 4 p.m. at its location at 117 West 2nd St., Berwick. All veterans and the public are welcome to attend. The ceremony will be performed by the Elks Lodge beginning at 4 p.m., with a presentation of colors by the Berwick VFW. Guest speakers include state senator John Gordner and veteran Timothy Hutton. RSVPs are appreciated but not required at 570-759-8131, and please leave a message. 


  • LIFE Geisinger will host its annual Open House on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 3-6 p.m. at its location at 1100 Spruce St., Kulpmont. There will be light refreshments, door prizes, tours of the facility, and an opportunity to learn about this innovative alternative care program for older adults intended to keep them living in their own homes. Please RSVP to Wendy Rishel by email or call 570-373-2100. 


  • The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) is creating a new development advisory committee to advise and assist MARC with fundraising for MARC’s long-term general operations and site specific needs at the Montour Preserve, Hess Recreation Area, North Branch Canal Trail, Hopewell Park/Danville Borough Farm Trail System and other sites. The committee will begin to meet in January 2019 on a schedule to be determined by committee members. Committee members will serve on an unpaid volunteer basis. Letters of interest are now being accepted from community members with a background in fundraising and a demonstrated commitment to supporting outdoor recreation in and around Montour County. Interested individuals are asked to provide a brief one to two-paragraph statement of their background, skill set and willingness to serve. Information should be emailed to Bob Stoudt, MARC director, by email no later than Friday, Nov. 16. Candidates will be considered by MARC’s board on Monday, Nov. 19, during MARC’s regularly scheduled meeting. MARC anticipates appointing up to eight community members to this committee.



  • NEPIRC will conduct a free leadership training seminar titled “Leadership Development Essentials” on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, located at 725 West Front St. (Rt. 11) in Berwick. This program is intended to help individuals become stronger, more impactful leaders. While joining other managers and supervisors to discuss workplace challenges, attendees will explore topics that include self-awareness, power & authority, risk & failure and leadership style. Using self-assessment tools and experiential learning, attendees will examine their strengths and weaknesses while exploring best practices of exceptional leaders. Register via the NEPIRC event website


  • Wild For Salmon will host a holiday tasting event at its retail store on 521 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11) in Bloomsburg on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. There is no cost to attend. Much like its other public tasting events throughout the year, this event will feature some dishes specially prepared by Wild For Salmon’s in-house chef featuring salmon and other seafood for attendees to taste, only this time, there will be a winter and holiday theme to the menu selections.