FLORENCE, S.C. (May 8, 2002) -- CP&L has announced that as part of its plan to ensure a continued reliable flow of electricity in the Pee Dee Region, the company will invest about $19.5 million in upgrading electric transmission facilities in Darlington, Florence and Lee counties over the next three years.

CP&L plans to build a 32-mile, 230-kiloVolt electric transmission line to better serve customers in the area. The line will run from CP&L's Darlington County Plant, near Hartsville, to an existing 230-kiloVolt electric substation in Florence.

The project is one of several major transmission upgrades under way throughout CP&L's service area. The company expects to spend about $200 million on transmission system enhancements over the next several years.

"Electricity usage in this area continues to grow at a significant rate, and the electric system must keep pace," said Emerson Gower, vice president of CP&L's Southern Region, which includes the Pee Dee Region. "In addition to building a number of new power plants to serve our customers, CP&L must continue to enhance the transmission and distribution systems to ensure a continuous supply of electricity to homes and businesses in the region.

"Our studies show that the transmission system upgrades will enable us to continue meeting the needs of our customers in Florence and Darlington counties and the surrounding area well into the future, without potentially creating the types of electric system concerns that have plagued other parts of the country in recent months."

Public information meetings scheduled

CP&L will hold two public information meetings for area residents to learn more about the project. The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, at the American Legion Post 13 building, 1752 Harry Byrd Highway (next to the National Guard Armory) in Darlington; and Thursday, May 23, at Williams Middle School, 1119 N. Irby St. in Florence.

Both meetings will be from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will follow an open-house format, allowing residents to come and go as they please. CP&L representatives will provide information on the need, route alternatives, schedule and other aspects of the project. The company also is seeking input from area residents about prospective routing options for the power line. Property owners located within 200 feet of an identified route alternative are being notified of the project and public information meetings by mail.

"We're really looking for two-way communication at this meeting," Gower said. "We're making a significant investment in ensuring the long-term reliability of the electric system that serves our customers. But we recognize that our neighbors in the study area know things about the region that we might not, and the information they can provide us is extremely valuable as we work to site new facilities."

More about the project

The new power line will be attached to transmission poles, spaced approximately every 500 to 700 feet and standing 85 to 100 feet tall. It will begin at a substation located at the Darlington County Plant (4030 W. Bobo Newsom Highway). The line will terminate at a substation at 1200 N. Douglas St. in Florence. Substations are facilities that reduce the voltage of electricity to a level that can be distributed to homes and businesses.

The project calls for the new transmission line to be operational by June 2005. Power line route selection, right-of-way acquisition, additional engineering and design and other milestones will occur before construction begins. The construction process is expected to begin in early 2004 and take about 16 months.

The process of route selection is under way, and the information gathered at the public information meetings will aid that process. A final route will be chosen this summer. Acquisition of the transmission line right of way (about 50 feet on either side of the line) is scheduled to begin in late 2002. CP&L purchases easements from property owners to allow for construction and maintenance of the power line. The property owners retain ownership of the land.

CP&L will work with local governments and agencies to ensure that the project complements local growth plans. The company will comply with all regulatory requirements related to the construction and operation of the facilities. CP&L's paramount objective is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees during construction and operation.

CP&L, a subsidiary of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.2 million customers in South Carolina and North Carolina. The company is headquartered in Raleigh and serves a territory encompassing more than 33,000 miles. For more information about CP&L, visit the company's Web site at: http://www.cpl.com.