On Friday, July 21, the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) held the first of 4 community hearings to receive consumers’ testimony about The District of Columbia Power Line Undergrounding Initiative (DC PLUG). The hearing, attended by more than 35 people, was held at Community of Hope, 4 Atlantic St., SW. DC PLUG is the historic public-private partnership between the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Pepco to improve the District’s electric system resiliency. DC PLUG was initiated in response to severe weather events impacts on the electric distribution system.
Through DC PLUG, DDOT and Pepco will place underground approximately 30 of Pepco’s poorest performing primary and lateral overhead power lines in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 over the next 6 years. Pepco will be responsible for all construction involving electrical engineering, and DDOT will be responsible for civil engineering construction.
Pepco’s Aaron Smith and DDOT’s Ronald Williams provided overviews of the undergrounding project’s scope and construction management. Pepco’s Morgan O’Donnell, Manager of Regulatory Analysis, presented project costs and individual ratepayers’ approximate billing costs for the first two years of construction. According to Ms. O’Donnell, based on an average monthly usage of 675 kWhs, the Underground Project Charge (UPC) would increase monthly electric bills by $.14.
The revised Undergrounding Law authorizes DDOT’s construction costs to be recovered from Pepco through a DDOT Underground Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Charge, or DDOT monthly charge. Ms. O’Donnell added that Pepco is authorized to recover these costs from all of its distribution customers through a rate rider. Based on an average monthly usage of 675 kWhs, this rate rider would have an estimated monthly bill impact of $1.05, making the combined increase in the first year of the plan approximately $1.19 per customer. Pepco’s Residential Aid Discount (RAD) customers will not be billed for DC PLUG costs.
OPC Trial Supervisor Travis L. Smith reinforced the need for undergrounding overhead feeders to improve system reliability and resilience and assured consumers OPC would keep residents updated as DC PLUG construction progresses. Two witnesses provided comments.