Let’s Get Real



PPL Challenge #1


Mobile Data Technology


Present a business case on how PPL could deploy mobile data technology to support customer restoration efforts following a storm (“storm” as defined by Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) criteria for PPL which is 2,500 customers without electricity for 6 hours or more).





Mobile data technology within the electric utility transmission & distribution delivery system includes field devices (examples: Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, mobile printers/plotters, radios) to receive and transmit data, communications (satellite, cell phone, radio, power lines) to and from the field and central locations, software applications to process data and necessary electronic hardware.





  1. The scope of this business case should consider the following potential applications of the technology in storm restoration:
    1. Dispatch work crews to site of trouble
    2. Work crew report status of job, condition of system and devices at that location, as-built drawings and data, configuration of switching devices.
    3. Communicate system conditions from field assessors to central locations accurately and quickly in order to expedite dispatch of work crews along with necessary paperwork and information for crews.
    4. Provide maps, wiring diagrams, driving directions, and other data electronically to personnel in the field
    5. Provide estimated restoration times (ERT) and trouble causes and job status to customers



  1. The use of electronic devices in the field to collect and transmit data poses problems. Many users may not be experienced in the use of computer equipment, so the applications should be user-friendly, somewhat fail-safe (self-checking capability), and intuitive. PDAs and hand-held computers or laptops must be reliable and rugged, able to withstand challenging environmental conditions and travel over rough terrain by truck. Jobs are sometimes performed in dark and rainy/snowy conditions. There are remote areas where data transmission may be problematic.


  1. Collection, storage, and transmittal of data must have adequate security.


  1. There are expected benefits of mobile data technology, including improved efficiency in collection, transmittal, and storage/update of data, improved system reliability, customer satisfaction that are difficult to quantify. Despite these problems, include a cost vs. benefit analysis that would provide justification for investment in this technology as well as financial risks.


  1. What type of training and orientation would be required to test and debug the system, and achieve an adequate learning curve for users and other application interfaces?


  1. Consider maintenance and troubleshooting considerations. What happens when the system experiences problems or equipment failures? What are the backup plans and associated costs?


  1. Consider expandability and phased in approaches in order to minimize risk associated with transition/learning curve challenges and verifiability of functionality (in other words, demonstrate that the concept works and provides benefits before committing the full investment).


  1. Are there any safety or regulatory issues that need to be considered?


  1. Could this type of technology, besides helping the electric utility company, also provide any benefits from a customer’s viewpoint?




PPL expects the team to research existing mobile data technology that could improve how electric service is restored to customers following a major power outage. Research subject areas include general electric utility work practices and processes to restore electric power, in addition to technology. The project deliverable will be a business case, with appropriate backup, that recommends if, how, and when PPL should invest in these technologies. The outcome of the business case could lead to a recommendation that this is not a feasible investment for PPL, that only a partial investment is required, or that the investment is only viable at a future date. Winners are selected based on the effectiveness and thoroughness of their research, and the quality and creativeness of their solution, and not whether or not the investment is recommended. The business case should include a cost-benefit analysis and a discussion of risks and change management issues. The Impediments, Suggested Approaches, and Considerations Section of this scope document are not mandatory components of the project. Teams may use any portion of these suggestions, and may also incorporate any other considerations and approaches.




Electric Utility Organizations:


Electric Utility Publications & Conferences:






PPL Challenge #2:


Whose Lake Is It? Creating a Balanced Use at Lake Wallenpaupack

Develop a plan that will address the competing demands for the Lake Wallenpaupack resource including electrical generation, recreation and safety for the downstream community


Lake Wallenpaupack serves a variety of interests. This hydroelectric project was built in the 1920s to provide electricity for northeastern Pennsylvania.  Over the decades since it was built, the Lake Wallenpaupack project has also become very important as it provides recreation, flood control, drought relief and environmental education. It now is the most important economic basis for the region, bringing tourism dollars to the area.  PPL, in keeping with the license it has received from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate the lake, balances all of those needs and strives to be a good neighbor in meeting its obligations as caretaker of the lake.


PPL recently received an operating license renewal from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee.  During this relicensing process, PPL involved many of the stakeholders in the community to ensure their interests and concerns were addressed. Teams should investigate the following areas and determine if enhancements can/should be made in order to balance the many uses and benefits Lake Wallenpaupack provides.


Community benefits and related issues:



Water from the lake travels to the power plant, which is located on the Lackawaxen River, through a 3 ˝ mile pipeline that is more than 14 feet in diameter. PPL draws a mixture of water from the top and bottom of the lake to provide the best flow into the turbines and preserve the cool water trout fisheries downstream of the plant.









Teams should consider all possible uses of Lake Wallenpaupack and how to accommodate them while still producing electricity. For example, if the dam were to take flood control into more consideration, what kind of impact would this have on the recreation businesses on the lake?  Teams should also consider what other agencies or organizations could be involved in assisting with some of the community issues. By the laws of Pennsylvania, the lake is a resource available to all citizens. It is also important to note that PPL holds an operating license with specific guidelines and rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 


PPL expects the team to research the different uses of Lake Wallenpaupack and be able to make management recommendations on how PPL can best manage the lake to accommodate competing demands. Teams should create a written business case and be able to back up their management decision with facts.  Consider the economic benefit of generating electricity for PPL:  the value of the electricity generated at Lake Wallenpaupack is nominal compared to the economic benefit to the regional economy.  Attempt to address the various community benefits and issues listed above from the perspective of a variety of different stakeholders.


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) www.ferc.gov

Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) www.dep.state.pa.us

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) www.fish.state.pa.us

Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Hawley-Lake Wallenpaupack Chamber of Commerce, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce

Local Newspapers, including The News Eagle, River Reporter and The Weekly Almanac

Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau (PMVB) www.800poconos.org

PPL Web Public Lake Use Policy  www.pplweb.com



PPL Timeline and Procedures

Registration Forms Submittal (also complete written proposal submittal instructions, below) Be sure to view the rules, registration and forms. You must submit completed registration forms and contract forms for the PPL Challenge via U.S. mail to:

Let's Get Real
624 Waltonville Road

Hummelstown, PA 17036


by January 26, 2007


Written Proposal —You must submit your written proposal in an acceptable electronic format [Microsoft Word (.doc) or simple text file (.txt)]. Please note:  The written proposals should be submitted as a Word document explaining your business case. 

Power Point presentations do not give the judges enough information to judge.  If separate graphics or scanned images are included, they should be in gif, jpg, or jpeg format. Send your proposal for the PPL Challenge via e-mail to both  mewelker@pplweb.com and lgr@epix.net by January 26, 2007

Oral Presentation
— Your team coordinator will be notified during the week of February 26, 2007, whether or not you are selected to give an oral presentation. Final Oral Presentations for PPL Challenges will be held as follows:

Challenge #1 - Mobile Data Technology finals will be on Monday, April 2 in the North Auditorium at PPL Headquarters in Allentown, PA

Challenge #2 - Whose Lake Is It? - Balanced Use finals will be on Wednesday, April 11 at the PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center in Hawley, PA.   

NOTE:   You will be sent directions and an agenda after finalists are selected.

Only finalist student team members and their adult team coordinator are invited to attend the oral presentation finals. PPL is not prepared to host student family members or additional school faculty.

PPL Awards for Winning Teams Each student on the winning team will receive PPL Corporation common stock and a winner’s certificate. The winning team will also receive a team trophy suitable for the school’s trophy case. The runner-up team (if one is selected) will receive a team trophy, and each of the students will receive runner-up certificates. All students taking part in the oral presentation will receive a Let’s Get Real T-shirt.

Good Luck…and HAVE FUN !