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.
 

Construction updates
Mayor Bowser held an official groundbreaking event for undergrounding DC PLUG feeder 308, serving about 600 customers in the American University Park and Friendship Heights communities, on June 14, 2019. The new underground feeder 308 was cut over from overhead to underground on November 18, 2020 and is currently serving customers. (Note: 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 DCSPS Chairman Willie L. Phillips and other agency and utility representative at the DC Plug groundbreaking.


Construction of feeder 14900 serving approximately 1,400 customers in Hawthorne, Barnaby Woods, Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights began in December 2019 and is expected to be complete by December 2022.

Construction of feeder 368 in Fort Davis Park, Benning Ridge and Marshall Heights is expected to begin in October 2021 and would serve about 700 customers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Background
The DCPSC approved the Second Biennial Plan
(Formal Case No. 1159, Order No. 20285) in January 2020.  The Order addresses the technical aspects of system design, construction and operation of the program as well as recovery of costs from ratepayers.

“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,” said DCPSC Chairman Willie L. Phillips. “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,” he added.

The revised DC PLUG statute was signed into law on May 19, 2017, authorizing combined total expenditures of no more than $500 million by Pepco and DDOT, to move selected overhead primary feeders underground. Pepco is authorized to spend $250 million, DDOT is authorized to spend $187.5 million, and the remaining $62.5 million will come from the DDOT’s capital budget. Approximately 20 feeders will be undergrounded under DCPLUG (over three biennial filings). Approximately 8,000 customers and 13,000 customers will benefit directly from the First Biennial Plan ($134 million) and Second Biennial Plan ($264 million), respectively.
 
Costs for the DC PLUG program are recovered through two separate charges:

  • 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.
 The third and final Biennial Plan is expected to be filed during the third quarter of 2021.  DC PLUG III will encompass approximately $102 million of the remaining funding.

Other information
  • 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 reported on program status during the DC PLUG Semi-Annual Meeting in December 2020.
  • 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 Formal Case No. 1159. For additional information about DC PLUG, including a construction schedule, visit https://dcpluginfo.com/.