**FILE** Courtesy of pepco.com

The D.C. Public Service Commission has approved a joint application by Pepco and the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) to begin the final phase of a program to ground vulnerable overhead power lines.

The Third Biennial Plan is the final phase of the D.C. Power Line Undergrounding Program (DC PLUG). With the completion of all 20 feeders, DC PLUG will provide increased reliability and resiliency benefits to about 26,000 electric customers in the District, the commission said in a statement.

DC PLUG is a multi-year program designed to place underground the city’s most vulnerable overhead distribution lines underground in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. The total investment in the program is roughly $500 million.

Despite nominal increases to residential customer bills to fund the plan, one of its goals is to provide D.C. residents and qualified contractors with “significant economic opportunities,” the commission said.

Within 90 days of the order approved by the PSC, Pepco, a D.C.-area utility company, must have an estimated start date and projected end for each of the 20 feeders approved in the Underground Infrastructure Improvements Projects Plan. Pepco will also file revised tariff sheets, including the Underground Project Charge Rider and the Underground Rider, within 10 days of the order’s approval.

Plus, Pepco and DDOT must submit a compliance filing within 90 days of the order. The commission also directs Pepco to submit a report on the total costs of the Benning Area Reliability Plan (BARP) since its inception and a cost-breakdown for each DC PLUG feeder compared to the original budget estimates as part of the 90-day compliance filing.

Pepco and DDOT are mandated to see that contractors are hiring District residents for the project. The goal is to fill 100% of construction-related jobs with District residents and award 100% of the construction contracts to certified business enterprises or certified joint ventures where a CBE holds a majority interest.

For more information, go to dcpsc.org.

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