Pepco’s long-planned undergrounding project wins District approval

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Pepco's overhead power lines are susceptible to tree damage. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2014)

Pepco’s long-planned undergrounding project will begin in mid-2018 following this month’s Public Service Commission approval of its DC PLUG initiative, the company said.

The $500 million project — paid for half by Pepco ratepayers and half by the D.C. government — will bury some of the utility company’s most trouble-prone “feeder” lines. The project won’t affect the local power lines that go directly into customers’ homes, instead targeting the wires that serve entire neighborhoods.

“DC PLUG is part of our commitment to building a safer, stronger, and more resilient DC,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news release. “This project will strengthen our electrical grid, make power outages less likely during extreme weather events, and create jobs for residents and new opportunities for certified business enterprises and local small businesses.”

A surcharge on customers’ electric bills will start appearing in 2018 in advance of the construction, which will begin later in the year in selected areas of wards 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. While specific construction schedules haven’t yet been released, Pepco has listed three work areas intended for the first three years of its six-to-eight-year project.

In Ward 3, one feeder is targeted for undergrounding in the first three years: No. 00308, located in an area of Friendship Heights and American University Park. The project area is roughly bounded by 44th, Brandywine and Harrison streets and Western Avenue NW, though fewer than half of the area’s individual blocks will see construction work. (see map)

Two Ward 4 areas are also due for undergrounding work by 2021. One is Oregon Avenue NW in Chevy Chase; the other covers an area of Brightwood, Manor Park and Takoma, roughly bordered by 9th, Dahlia and Rittenhouse streets and Blair Road NW. (see map)

Visit dcpluginfo.com to learn more about the project.