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Tickers in this Article: ALU, LMT, PPL
PPL Corporation's (PPL) subsidiary PPL Electric Utilities has completed its "smart grid" pilot project. As a part of this project, the company installed sophisticated electric delivery system technology, which will enable it to provide reliable and uninterrupted electric supply to its 60,000 customers in Dauphin and Cumberland counties around Harrisburg in Pennsylvania during summers. PPL Corporation invested $40 million to finish this three-year project. The company received funding, worth $19 million, from the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") under its utility grants program to support attempts to improve U.S. power grids.

PPL Corporation received technological support from several organizations and educational institutions including GE Energy, Alcatel-Lucent, S.A. (ALU), Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) and Drexel University for this project.

PPL Corporation's newly-installed "smart grid" systems will enable the company to save customer money and energy through operational efficiency. The system will promptly detect issues that cause power outages and redirect power around the problem zone to restore supply. The optimum use of energy will also help to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Utility providers like PPL Corporation invest regularly for improvement of energy transmission and distribution operations and installation of modern technology. A few days ago, the company completed the construction of a new transmission substation and associated power lines to strengthen the regional power grid and boost reliability for customers in Dauphin County and neighboring areas. The total cost of the project amounted to $28 million.

We expect PPL Corporation to file for a distribution rate hike with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ("PPUC"). As evident from the company's strategy so far, it appeals for a rate hike after infrastructure and distribution investments. The company filed for a rate hike in March 2012, subsequent to its investments in Susquehanna-Roseland Power, Moore Township and Appenzell projects.

During the first quarter earnings release, PPL Corporation announced its full year 2012 earnings guidance in the range of $2.15 - $2.45 per share. As per the Zacks Consensus Estimate, the company's second quarter and full year 2012 earnings are expected to be 40 cents and $2.31 per share, respectively.

PPL Corporation currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

Allentown, Pennsylvania-based PPL Corporation generates and delivers electricity and natural gas to nearly 10.3 million customers in the United States and United Kingdom.

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