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Power Line Undergrounding

Power Line Undergrounding

Following a series of powerful storms that hit the District in 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray established the Power Line Undergrounding Task Force, which is co-chaired by Allen Y. Lew, City Administrator and Joseph Rigby, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Pepco. The disruption of electric service from severe storms and other damage to overhead wires seriously impacts residents and businesses, particularly when outages are frequent or sustained.

The overall objective of the Task Force was to define practical options for power line system improvements to achieve reliable electric service, with an emphasis on needs during weather incidents. Based on an engineering assessment of feeder condition and technical options for upgrading the electric distribution system to significantly improve dependability for residents and commercial customers, the Task Force has determined that the undergrounding of the primary mainline and lateral wires (high voltage circuits) is the most prudent technical approach for the District, given the vulnerability of these circuits.  This undergrounding strategy offers the best balance of reliability improvement and cost.

The abridged version of the final report provides an overview of the existing condition assessment, engineering alternatives examined, and the technical and financing approach recommended by the Task Force.  

A copy of the report is provided as an attachment below, along with a Fact Sheet, Frequently Asked Questions and other related content.

PROPOSED LEGISLATION

  • Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 (Submitted to Council July 2013):  In July 2013, the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 was introduced for Council consideration, in accordance with the recommendations of the Mayor’s Power Line Undergrounding Task Force. When enacted, the legislation will provide the Council’s approval of the power line undergrounding program, on behalf of the District. The legal and financial standards for the District’s power line undergrounding program are established in the legislation.
  • Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 (Revised September 2013):  Based on comments received on the introduced version (July 2013), the Task Force has revised the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 to further clarify the legal and financial standards for the District’s power line undergrounding program. Consistent with the original legislation, the revised bill will authorize the issuance of revenue bonds under Section 490 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act; authorize the Public Service Commission to issue financing orders for Pepco’s costs of constructing underground conduits, ducts, manholes, vaults and ancillary facilities for electric distribution in the District; and authorize the District to provide funding from bond proceeds to the Department of Transportation to finance construction of underground conduits, ducts banks, manholes, vaults and ancillary facilities for electric distribution in the District, together with associated roadway restoration.

The Council Committee on Government Operations and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hold a Joint Public Hearing on the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 at 11am on October 21, 2013.  Additional information about the hearing, including instructions for persons wishing to testify, is provided in the official hearing notice.