- The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved PECO’s plan to invest $274 million over the next five years for grid upgrades, including microgrid technology, that would make its distribution system more resilient and less vulnerable to storm damage.
- Under the approved plan, PECO would spend $50 million to $100 million on a microgrid pilot program.
- The investment approved by the PUC is in addition to $300 million PECO is already spending to upgrade its infrastructure and a microgrid project is involved in at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia-based PECO, like several other eastern seaboard utilities, is investing to strengthen its distribution infrastructure in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
In most cases, the utilities are seeking regulatory approval to recover those investments through rate increases.
In PECO’s case, the Pennsylvania PUC unanimously approved the utility’s $274 million System 2020 (Docket No. R-2015-2471423), which also includes underground cable replacement, building substation retirements and facility relocations. PECO expects to begin work on the five-year plan in 2016.
PECO, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp., serves more than 2.1 million electric and natural gas customers in an area of southeast Pennsylvania that includes Philadelphia and five surrounding counties.
A total of 845,709 PECO customers were affected by Sandy.
PECO’s partners in the Navy Yard microgrid project included Penn State University, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., the Department of Energy, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
This summer New York awarded $100,000 in funding grants for 83 communities to study the feasibility of creating microgrids. The awards are the initial phase of NY Prize, a program designed to modernize the state’s grid.
And in July, New Jersey proposed doubling to $6 million its investment in energy storage as part of its efforts to bolster grid resiliency.