PECO said it will fund its electric and gas operations with roughly $400 million this year for infrastructure improvements and new facilities to improve service reliability, field productivity and system performance, as well as investments to improve energy efficiency at several company facilities. Dozens of PECO operational and strategic projects will provide a significant boost to the Greater Philadelphia economy based on an estimated 1,100 jobs and purchase of materials and services.
Overall, the capital program consists of mainly transmission and distribution system performance work, capacity upgrades, corrective maintenance programs, relocation of utility facilities for public roadway or other projects, and new facilities to accommodate new residential, business or institutional construction.
The utility said many of its larger projects are planned and constructed over multiple years. About $142 million is allocated for the projects to modernize or replace older facilities and expand electric and gas capacity in certain communities due to increased energy consumption and local growth.
The total capital investment plan is about the same as last year, and spending still can be adjusted based on economic conditions, particularly impacts on new business activity and projected capacity expansion requirements and from stimulus programs.
“Whether it is a down economy or a growing one, PECO must fulfill its obligation to our customers and this region with investments in infrastructure improvements, new technology, and projects to ensure safe, reliable service. Our work this year will provide benefits for the area this year and for years to come,” said Craig Adams, PECO senior vice president and chief operating officer. “To be prudent, we still are pursuing cost-saving opportunities across our operations to reflect our current economic realities.”
The largest project getting underway with construction this year is a new electric transmission substation in Worcester Twp., Pa., to improve regional grid reliability during peak summer demand periods. The $45 million project recently received state Public Utility Commission (PUC) approval after an extensive two-year process for project planning, community outreach and siting.
Also in the suburbs, PECO will expand its distribution automation efforts, complete upgrades on circuits to improve electric reliability in targeted areas, and expand local substations in Warminster, Gladwyne, Goshen, and other locations in southern Chester County and York County. PECO also is building or modernizing three substations in the City of Philadelphia – one serving University City and West Philadelphia, another in the Grays Ferry section, and a facility on Schuylkill Avenue in South Philadelphia.
At its Center City headquarters, PECO has a major modernization project getting underway with the planned replacement of its transmission operations control center over the next two years. Additionally, PECO is upgrading lighting and HVAC systems at its headquarters and several suburban sites to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste. Another key investment is PECO’s implementation of mobile dispatch technology, which will benefit its field operations handling storm response and maintenance activities.