|Type||Public (NYSE: PPL)|
|Headquarters||2 North 9th St.|
Allentown, PA 18101
|Area served||DE, MD, MT, PA; United Kingdom|
|Key people||James H. Miller, CEO|
|Industry||Electric Producer & Utility|
Natural Gas Utility
|Products||Electricity, Natural Gas|
|Revenue||$6.50 billion (2007)|
|Net income||▲ $1.29 billion (2007)|
PPL Energy Services
PPL Electric Utilities
PPL Gas Utilities
PPL Renewable Energy
PPL, formerly known as PP&L or Pennsylvania Power and Light, is an electric company headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It currently controls over 11,000 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity in the United States, primarily in Pennsylvania and Montana, and delivers electricity to customers in the United Kingdom. PPL recently sold all subsidiaries in Latin America and its Telcom subsidiary (PPL Telcom), and is now based solely in the US and UK.
The majority of PPL's power plants burn coal, oil, or natural gas. PPL recently has invested heavily in peaking plants. These plants require few operators and have a high profit margin due to their ability to rapidly come online when the price of electricity spikes. PPL's largest plant is the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, a 2,352 megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant PPL Susquehanna, located on its namesake river seven miles northeast of Berwick, Pennsylvania.
The company is publicly-traded on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol NYSE: PPL.
- 1 Congressional campaign contributions
- 2 Negative tax rate
- 3 Purchasing two KY utilities from E.ON
- 4 Power portfolio
- 5 Coal waste
- 6 Existing coal-fired power plants
- 7 Proposed coal plant closures
- 8 Coal lobbying
- 9 Articles and Resources
Congressional campaign contributions
PPL is one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. In 2010, PPL spent $400,000 in the first quarter to lobby the federal government on climate change issues and plug-in electric vehicles, more than the $340,000 the company spent in the fourth quarter and the $200,000 spent in the first quarter of 2009. PPL also lobbied Congress on coal ash issues, energy efficiency, and a program that helps low-income families pay their utility bills.
In 2008, these contributions totaled $221,900 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) for $28,000. Senator Specter, for his part, has repeatedly voted with the coal industry on energy, war and climate bills. Contributions like this from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress are often seen as a political barrier to pursuing clean energy. More information on coal industry contributions to Congress can be found at FollowtheCoalMoney.org, a project sponsored by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Oil Change International and Appalachian Voices.
Negative tax rate
A 2011 analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, "Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers: 2008-10" found dozens of companies, including fossil fuels, used tax breaks and various tax dodging methods to have a negative tax balance between 2008 and 2010, while making billions in profits. The study found 32 companies in the fossil-fuel industry -- such as Peabody Energy, ConEd, and PG&E -- transformed a tax responsibility of $17.3 billion on $49.4 billion in pretax profits into a tax benefit of $6.5 billion, for a net gain of $24 billion.
The companies that paid no tax for at least one year between 2008 and 2010 are the utilities Ameren, American Electric Power, CenterPoint Energy, CMS Energy, Consolidated Edison, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, Integrys, NextEra Energy, NiSource, Pepco, PG&E, PPL, Progress Energy, Sempra Energy, Wisconsin Energy and Xcel Energy.
Purchasing two KY utilities from E.ON
As of June 2010, PPL plans on buying two Kentucky utilities for $7.6 billion from German power company E.ON AG. The deal for Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities would give the company an additional 1.2 million customers.
Out of its total 12,611 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (1.18% of the U.S. total), PPL produced 47.4% from coal, 20.6% from nuclear, 17.8% from oil, 7.5% from hydroelectricity, and 7.1% from natural gas. PPL owns power plants in Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania; 67.6% of the company's generating capacity comes from power plants in Pennsylvania.
EPA releases list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash dumps
In response to demands from environmentalists as well as Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the EPA made public a list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste dumps. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not include an assessment of the likelihood of such an event. PPL owns one of the sites, which stores coal combustion waste for the Colstrip Steam Plant in Montana. To see the full list of sites, see Coal waste.
Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at PPL's Martins Creek coal waste site
The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Pennsylvania. In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club. It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.
According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was found at elevated levels at the following sites:
- PPL's Martins Creek Steam Station unlined coal waste pond at 100 ppb - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.
A press release about the report read:
- Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.
According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
Violation Tracker is the first national search engine on corporate misconduct covering environmental, health, and safety cases initiated by 13 federal regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Click here to access Violation Tracker.
Existing coal-fired power plants
|Plant Name||State||County||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions|
|Colstrip||MT||Rosebud||1975, 1976, 1984, 1986||2272 MW||16,783,000 tons||14,298 tons|
|Montour||PA||Montour||1972, 1973||1625 MW||8,964,000 tons||129,357 tons|
|Brunner Island||PA||York||1961, 1965, 1969||1559 MW||9,118,000 tons||93,545 tons|
|Martins Creek||PA||Northampton||1954, 1956||312 MW||3,007,000 tons||30,058 tons|
|Corette||MT||Yellowstone||1968||173 MW||1,498,000 tons||4,401 tons|
In 2006, PPL's 5 coal-fired power plants emitted 39.4 million tons of CO2 (0.65% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 272,000 tons of SO2 (1.81% of all U.S. SO2 emissions).
Proposed coal plant closures
In September 2012 PPL said its Corette Plant near Billings, Montana will be mothballed starting in April 2015 because it will cost too much to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard that take effect in April 2015. The plant will then be placed in reserve status, commonly called mothballing. Mothballing the Corette plant, rather than shutting it down permanently, gives PPL Montana the opportunity to resume operations at some point if conditions change.
PPL is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.
In 2011 PPL, which purchased Montana Power Co.'s dams and coal-fired plants in 1999, was listed as one of the top five lobbying spenders in the state of Montana. The company led lobbying spending during the 2007 and 2009 Montana legislative sessions.
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- PPL Corporation, BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed July 2008.
- "PPL spent $400,000 on lobbying in 1st quarter" Bloomberg BusinessWeek, June 24, 2010.
- Robert S. McIntyre, Matthew Gardner, Rebecca J. Wilkins, Richard Phillips, "Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers: 2008-10" Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, November 2011 Report.
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
- Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.
- Fact Sheet: Coal Combustion Residues (CCR) - Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings, Environmental Protection Agency, June 2009.
- "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
- "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
- U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
- EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
- EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
- "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.
- Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
- Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
- "PPL Montana to mothball Corette power plant in 2015," Billings Gazette, Sep. 20, 2012.
- Coal-Fired Utilities to American Public: Kiss my Ash DeSmogBlog.com & PolluterWatch, October 27, 2010.
- "Companies spent $5.7M lobbying Montana lawmakers in 2011 session" Associated Press, June 6, 2011.