District of Columbia Power Line Undergrounding - DC PLUG

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser providing remarks at DC PLUG Groundbreaking on June 14, 2019Mayor Muriel Bowser providing remarks at DC PLUG Groundbreaking on June 14, 2019
  • Chairman Willie L. Phillips addresses the media at the DC PLUG GroundbreakingChairman Willie L. Phillips addresses the media at the DC PLUG Groundbreaking
  • People’s Counsel, Sandra Mattavous Frye, Mayor Bowser and DCPSC Chairman Willie L. PhillipsPeople’s Counsel, Sandra Mattavous Frye, Mayor Bowser and DCPSC Chairman Willie L. Phillips
  • DCPSC Commissioners Richard A. Beverly, Willie L. Phillps and Greer J. GillisDCPSC Commissioners Richard A. Beverly, Willie L. Phillps and Greer J. Gillis.
  • Mayor Bowser, District's Department of Transportation, Pepco and the DCPSC kick off DC PLUG, a $500 million private-public partnership to increase reliability and resiliency of the District’s electric gridMayor Bowser, District's Department of Transportation, Pepco and the DCPSC kick off DC PLUG, a $500 million private-public partnership to increase reliability and resiliency of the District’s electric grid

DCPSC Approves Second Biennial Plan for DC PLUG

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia has approved the Joint Application of Pepco and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Second Biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan and the Financing Order Application (Formal Case No. 1159, Order No. 20285).  The Order addresses the technical aspects of system design, construction, and operation of the Biennial Plan and the D.C. Power Line Undergrounding (DC PLUG) Education Plan.
 
DC PLUG is a multi-year program designed to migrate up to 30 of the District’s most vulnerable overhead distribution lines underground, taking place over six to eight years. Construction has begun for DC PLUG. Activity will occur in areas with the most vulnerable overhead lines: Wards 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.  It is a joint effort between the Commission, the Office of the Mayor, the City Council, Pepco, DDOT and other government agencies to improve the electric service reliability and reduce the impact of storm-related outages in the District. 
 
Chairman Willie L. Phillips stated, “Since 1999, the Commission has monitored Pepco’s system outage and restoration efforts during storms, including the impact of storms on Pepco’s overhead power lines. By directing Pepco to undertake measures to mitigate the impact of severe weather on its system, this Order allows Pepco and DDOT to address the concerns that many District residents and Pepco customers have had over the years regarding system reliability and resilience.”
 
Within 90 days of the Order, Pepco will identify the estimated start date and projected end date for each project approved in the Underground Infrastructure Improvements Projects Plan. Pepco will also file all revised tariff sheets and the proposed rate design, including the Underground Project Charge Rider and the Underground Rider within ten days of the Order. Pepco and DDOT must also submit a compliance filing within 90 days of the Order outlining: system design, utility coordination meetings, annual revenue requirements, a reconciliation of the $60 million First Biennial Plan DDOT Charge, and confirmation that the Third Biennial Plan will conform to the $500 million statutory spending limits.
 
The Commission also directed Pepco to file a report on the status of the Benning Area Reliability Plan (BARP) within 30 days from the Order. The report must contain the status of all pending work, including a timeline for completion and all budgeted and actual expenditures to date. The Commission further directed Pepco to provide periodic reports on the reliability improvements achieved from the BARP.
 
Every two years, Pepco and DDOT will file an application with the DCPSC for approval of a Biennial Plan for DC PLUG.  The Biennial Plan will consist of DDOT’s Underground Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Activity and Pepco’s Infrastructure Activity planned to be executed over a two-year period.
 
Pepco and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has already begun construction work by placing major parts of the utility distribution system underground on June 3, 2019.  The Mayor held an official groundbreaking event on June 14, 2019. Construction has begun in the American University Park and Friendship Heights communities, and is then expected to proceed to the Hawthorne, Barnaby Woods, Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights areas.

Subscribe to the Commission’s e-Docket to receive email updates on Formal Case No. 1159.

For additional information about DC PLUG visit https://dcpluginfo.com/.

Background

Due to severe weather events between 2010-2016 including the February 2010 winter storm, the June 2012 Derecho, and the January 2016 blizzard, the DC PLUG (DC Power Line Undergrounding) Initiative was established to primarily make the electric distribution system more resilient during severe weather events, reducing the duration and frequency of electric outages.

The Undergrounding Act
  • In May, 2017, the Mayor signed legislation (the Undergrounding Act) that amended the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2014 that authorizes the collection and use by the District of Columbia and the Pepco of certain charges to finance the undergrounding of certain electric power lines and ancillary facilities.
  • The law (originally signed as emergency-temporary legislation) became effective on May 17, 2017. The permanent law became effective on July 11, 2017 following no action by congress upon its review of the permanent legislation.
  • The Undergrounding Act governs Pepco’s and the District Department of Transportation’s public-private partnership to bury overhead primary power lines to improve electric service reliability and reduce the impact of storm-related outages in the District of Columbia.
  • The Act also changes a portion of the funding structure for DC PLUG project from bonds issued by the District and securitized by ratepayers, as authorized under the original 2014 Act, to a pay-as-you-go structure with the cost imposed on Pepco and recovered by Pepco through a tariff rider authorized under the new amended Act.
  • The law requires Pepco and DDOT to jointly file every two years an application for the Commission approval of a biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan (Biennial Undergrounding Plan), in lieu of the Triennial Plan required under the original 2014 Act. The Biennial Undergrounding Plan is to consist of DDOT’s Underground Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Activity and Pepco’s Infrastructure Activity planned to be undertaken in a two-year period. The law also authorizes an annually adjusted surcharge to recover costs associated with the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Costs (Underground Project Charge) approved by the Commission.
DDOT/Pepco Application

DDOT/Pepco Application

  • On July 3, 2017, DDOT and Pepco filed a Joint Application for Approval of the First Biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan and Financing Order Application (“Joint Application”) in compliance with the Undergrounding Act.
  • In its Order issued November 9, 2017, in Formal Case No. 1145, the Commission:
    1. Approved the first biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan, which identified six (6) electric distribution feeders, all or parts of which are currently overhead, that DDOT and Pepco propose to place underground;
    2. Approved a charge called the “Underground Project Charge” to recover costs incurred by Pepco to underground the selected feeders and other authorized costs and charges; and
    3. Issued a financing order authorizing Pepco to assess a charge called the “Underground Rider” to recover charges imposed on Pepco by the District of Columbia.
  • Both the “Underground Project Charge” and the “Underground Rider” will be paid by Pepco’s District of Columbia customers who take electric distribution service, except for low-income customers served under Pepco’s Residential Aid Discount Rider (“RAD”).
  • On September 23, 2019, DDOT and Pepco filed a Joint Application for Approval of the Second Biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan and Financing Order Application (“Joint Application”) in compliance with the Undergrounding Act.
  • In its Order issued January 24, 2020, in Formal Case No. 1159, the Commission:
    1. Approved the second biennial Underground Infrastructure Improvement Projects Plan, which identified 10 electric distribution feeders, all or parts of which are currently overhead, that DDOT and Pepco propose to place underground;
    2. Approved a change in the “Underground Project Charge” to recover costs incurred by Pepco to underground the selected feeders and other authorized costs and charges; and
    3. Authorized Pepco to assess the “Underground Rider” charge to recover charges imposed on Pepco by the District of Columbia.
  • As in the first biennial plan approval, both the “Underground Project Charge” and the “Underground Rider” will be paid by Pepco’s District of Columbia customers who take electric distribution service, except for low-income customers served under Pepco’s Residential Aid Discount Rider (“RAD”).
Additional Information
  • The DDOT/Pepco Joint Application is available for viewing on the Commission’s website (www.dcpsc.org) and may be inspected in the Public Service Commission’s Office of the Commission’s Secretary, 1325 G Street, Suite 800, Washington D.C. 20005 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

Office of the City Administrator
The Government of the District of Columbia approved a multi-year power line undergrounding project to help prevent prolonged electric service outages during significant weather events.

Pepco
The DC PLUG initiative is a partnership between the District and Pepco to improve the reliability and resiliency of the District of Columbia electric system by placing select systems underground.

District’s Department of Transportation
DC Plug Team works in collaboration with PEPCO to underground power lines.