T&D World Magazine

PECO Moving Ahead with $7.4 Million Project to Improve Electric Reliability

PECO has electric line and tree crews working along five miles of Route 23 over the next several months, installing a new line of utility poles and other equipment for an electric reliability improvement project for Lower Merion.

PECO said the project entails expanding and upgrading the Gladwyne substation, located on Conshohocken State Road across from the local post office, and building two new distribution circuits, which deliver electricity to area customers. The substation will more than double its electric capacity, so the new circuits can relieve load on existing circuits and more evenly balance customer load on the facilities serving the Gladwyne, Bryn Mawr and Ardmore areas.

Multiple utility crews are working together from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in accordance with PennDOT regulations, with flaggers guiding traffic due to restrictions on one lane. In the next two months, the PECO crews will be moving west on Conshohocken State Rd (SR-23) from Youngsford Road to Lafayette Road. Asplundh crews are working to stay ahead of the PECO crews on Rt. 23 West in Lower Merion Township and continuing on to West Conshohocken. Contractors working on the project include Riggs Distler, Cherry Hill, NJ, working on distribution through December 2008, and Henkels & McCoy, Blue Bell, NJ, on distribution from January through May 2009.

PECO said it is running a new 34-kV supply line into Gladwyne substation to connect with the company’s Barbados substation in West Norriton and Plymouth substation in Plymouth Meeting, along with adding two new transformers and other equipment to increase service reliability. The new line will provide a backbone and additional electric capacity to meet increasing demand for power and provide improved reliability for customers. Some of the new line will be attached to existing utility structures. Overall, the company will be installing or replacing nearly 185 poles, mainly on Conshohocken State Road and Joshua Road nearby.

“This project is a significant PECO investment for improved service reliability in this area and will benefit several thousand customers. We are working closely with the local officials and customers in the area to ensure we raise our reliability performance and address their concerns,” said Tim Shannon, regional manager for engineering.

In recent months, PECO has met with local officials and affected property owners to review the project due to the nature of the project across a number of towns, the traffic impact, and the need for tree trimming and removals, in certain cases, to accommodate new facilities. In areas with a greater density of trees, tree contact with the aerial power lines is a common cause of outages. The project design aimed to reduce tree removals as much as possible based on the route and the type of conductors selected.

The project is one of the larger investments for PECO in Montgomery County this year and is part of the company’s overall $394 million capital improvement plan for 2008. Other system improvement projects taking place this year in Montgomery County affect Conshohocken, Whitemarsh, Upper Dublin, Horsham, Upper Moreland, and Plymouth townships and Norristown.

During the second half of the year, PECO also is spending about $1.5 million for line clearance tree trimming in Lower Providence, West Norriton, Upper Merion, and Worcester townships and Norristown. This spending has proven to significantly reduce tree-related outages, particularly during storms.

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