DC PLUG: District of Columbia Power Line Undergrounding


Overview
DC PLUG is a public-private partnership between Pepco, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) ,and other District agencies to improve electric service reliability and reduce the impact of storm-related outages in the District by placing vulnerable overhead distribution lines underground in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.
 
The program originated with the 2013 Report of the Mayor’s Power Line Undergrounding Task Force and benefits District residents by reducing the severity of power outages during major storms, thereby increasing the resiliency and reliability of the electric distribution system. DC PLUG also offers significant economic development opportunities for District businesses and residents. The District currently has approximately 770 feeders and 2,400 circuit miles.  About one-half of the District is currently served by underground power lines.

A total of 20 feeders will be undergrounded through DCPLUG, spread out over three biennial filings. Approximately 8,000 customers, 13,000 customers and 5,000 customers will benefit directly from the First Biennial Plan ($134 million), the Second Biennial Plan ($264 million) and the Third Biennial Plan ($85 million), respectively.

Note that the Third Biennial Plan was filed in September 2021 and approved by the DCPSC in January 2022. Once construction on all 20 feeders is completed, DC PLUG will provide increased reliability and resiliency to approximately 26,000 electric customers in the District.

Construction updates
Mayor Bowser held an official groundbreaking event for undergrounding the first feeder, DC PLUG Feeder No. 308, serving about 600 customers in the American University Park and Friendship Heights communities, on June 14, 2019. The new underground Feeder 308 was placed in service on November 18, 2020, and is currently serving customers. Feeder 308’s pending overhead work was completed in January 2021. All overhead secondary feeder circuits, ancillary facilities, telecommunications, cable television cables, ancillary aboveground equipment, and some portions of the primary Feeder 308 will remain overhead.

Mayor Bowser joins other agency officials and utility representatives at the DC PLUG groundbreaking.


Construction of Feeder No. 14900, serving approximately 1,400 customers in Hawthorne, Barnaby Woods, Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights, began in December 2019 and is expected to be completed by December 2022.
 
Construction of Feeder No. 368, serving approximately 700 customers in Fort Davis Park, Benning Ridge and Marshall Heights, began in April 2022 and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2023.
 
Regarding Feeder Nos. 14758 and 15009, the final civil design is 100% complete and the construction is anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022.     
                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Background
The revised DC PLUG statute was signed into law on May 19, 2017, authorizing a combined total expenditure of no more than $500 million by Pepco and DDOT, to move selected overhead primary feeders underground. Pepco was authorized to spend $250 million, DDOT was authorized to spend $187.5 million, and the remaining $62.5 million would come from DDOT’s capital budget.
 
Recovery of costs
Costs for DC PLUG program are recovered through two separate charges on customers’ electric bills:

  • The Underground Projects Charge (UPC) recovers Pepco’s costs for DC PLUG and appears as a separate surcharge on customers’ bills.
  • The Underground Rider recovers DDOT’s costs for DC PLUG and does not appear as a separate surcharge on customers’ bills but is instead incorporated into the overall distribution charge.
Other information
  • Pepco has reported on 15 DC PLUG contracts as of April 7, 2022: 12 of the 15 contracts are entirely with Certified Business Enterprises.
  • DCPSC staff attend monthly DDOT utility construction coordination meetings and community meetings, review the DC PLUG website on a regular basis, monitor all construction activities and periodically inspect construction sites.
  • Pepco and DDOT report on program status during the DC PLUG Semi-Annual Meetings; the last of which was held in December 2021.
  • DCPSC staff perform an annual review of Pepco’s reconciliation and true up adjustments related to the UPC and Underground Rider charges.
  • The DCPSC Office of Consumer Services monitors Pepco and DDOT compliance with the integrated communications strategy.
Subscribe to receive email updates on the Second Biennial Plan as Third Biennial Plan. For additional information about DC PLUG, including a construction schedule, visit https://dcpluginfo.com/.