In late November 2020, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved PECO’s second electric Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan. This plan, also known as our Reliability & Resiliency Plan, serves as a roadmap for the strategic investment of $1.36 billion over a five-year period in reliability-focused infrastructure improvements.
These strategic investments will help to prevent customer outages, modernize the electric grid, and reduce the impact of extreme weather on electric infrastructure. This work will also support the adoption of clean energy resources, like customer-owned solar generation.
This plan is part of the company’s overall system investment to keep the lights on and natural gas flowing for customers. During the next five years, we will be investing approximately $6 billion across our electric and natural gas systems to inspect equipment, complete targeted system enhancements and corrective maintenance, invest in new equipment, and perform vegetation management.
Will it reduce power outages?
Yes, the primary goal of the plan is to prevent power outages for customers. There are three priority areas of infrastructure improvement targeted for accelerated investment. These focus areas include preventing outages related to more extreme storms, proactively replacing electric cable, and replacing or retiring aging substation equipment and small substations.
Preventing storm-related outages
Storms are getting stronger and more frequent, as witnessed during the summer months where we saw wind gusts up to 80 mph in some parts of the region. That’s why we’re investing approximately $441 million on improvements that include replacing poles, wires, and other equipment to better withstand wind and ice and retiring older substations and upgrading portions of the electric system these facilities serve.
Replacing electric cable
We’re also planning to invest $605 million on the targeted replacement of about 1,000 miles of distribution cable, which is typically installed underground. The cable we’re replacing has had a history of outages, which is why we’re working to replace it with more reliable equipment to keep the lights on for our customers. Working to prevent underground outages is key as repairing these issues take more time than repairs to overhead lines, as problems are harder to detect, and excavation may be needed.
Replacing or retiring aging substation equipment and small substations
Substations are critical components of the electric system as they lower electric voltage to levels that can be delivered to homes and businesses. In addition, these facilities serve thousands of customers across the region, which means keeping them running is essential. To help modernize our system and prevent outages from occurring, we are investing about $21 million to proactively replace critical equipment at these facilities. In addition, we’re spending about $300 million to retire smaller, outdated substations, and upgrading the associated electrical equipment that can support more customer-owned generation facilities and better withstand severe weather.
How does this support clean energy?
Retiring aging substations and upgrading portions of the electric system with new equipment and increasing the voltage of nearby circuits also increases the ability to support more customer-owned solar generation facilities. Ensuring reliable power also becomes more critical as the use of electric vehicles expands and customers increasingly rely on charging capabilities at their homes for vehicles.
Our customers are counting on us to deliver safe and reliable electric service every day, and the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of continued electric service across the region. This plan supports our essential work to power the region, when it’s needed the most.