Utility Outlines OC Area Projects; Submarine Cable Replacement Eyed

OCEAN CITY – Delmarva Power and Light (DP&L) Senior Public Affairs Manager Jim Smith provided the Mayor and City Council last week with an annual update on current issues and projects.

DP&L was first incorporated in 1909 and is now servicing 5,000 square miles with 506,000 electric customers between Delaware and Maryland, as well as 126,000 gas customers, 1,550 miles of transmission and 11,816 miles of distribution. DPL is part of Pepco Holdings, Inc., with regional headquarters in Salisbury along with district offices in Centreville as well as Harrington, Del. and Millsboro, Del.

“We have been around as an incorporated utility well over 100 years and have served Ocean City for many decades,” Smith said.

Over the past five years, DP&L has invested about $1 billion to strengthen its transmission and distribution systems to improve reliability, including upgrades to existing infrastructure, building new facilities/substations, replacing wood transmission poles with steel, and implementing comprehensive vegetation management plan.

“We basically make those investments based on several criteria. We look at the capacity to serve our customers, we look at the age of the infrastructure, and we look at the performance of the infrastructure every year,” Smith said. “We don’t want lights to be out here in Ocean City and when they do go out we get them back on as quickly as we can.”

Preventative maintenance is essential, Smith stated. Transmission lines are inspected annually with visual flyovers and infrared technology inspections, as well as in-depth pre-winter and pre-summer substation inspections and routine monthly substation inspections.

Annually pre-summer inspections of all capacitors, reclosers and regulators are conducted as these important pieces of equipment support and adjust voltage and serve as protective devices.

DP&L coordinates with regional power grid operators PJM, FERC and NERC to plan a transmission system that meets reliability criteria, and develop annual 10-year load forecasts for distribution feeders and substations.

Over the last five years, DP&L has invested more than $50 million to strengthen its transmission and distribution systems in Ocean City, including replacement of underground electric cable along with significant modernization of aerial infrastructure.

Since 2011, DP&L has decreased both the frequency and duration of power interruptions in Ocean City between 30 and 40 percent.

“We feel really good about that, and we will continue to build upon that foundation. The investments are paying off here,” Smith said.

In the past year, DP&L conducted several electric reliability improvement project highlights in Ocean City starting with the rebuild of a 69kV line transmission system from Berlin to Ocean City and an aerial phase from Berlin to West Ocean City.

The next phase replaces submarine cable that was installed in the early 1970s interconnecting 2nd Street with West Ocean City. This will start this coming fall into March/April. Vault work was completed this past offseason and drilling/cable pull will occur between October 2015 and April 2016. A boring rig will be located on 1st Street between St. Louis Ave. and the bay to perform this work.

As far as distribution, this past offseason the neighborhood of Little Salisbury had all underground and secondary cable replaced. The same will be done in Harbour Island this fall.