US utility firm PECO announced that it is close to completing its inspection and upgrade of its gas and electric systems to avoid outages in winter.In a press statement, the utility firm said it is spending over $100 million in maintaining its gas transmission and distribution system each year.
This year alone, PECO added to its gas distribution infrastructure, some 7,200 feet (2,19456 km) of natural gas pipelines to meet its growing energy demands.
The company replaced 106,000 feet (32,3088 km) of existing gas pipelines with new plastic pipes to improve the safety and durability of its natural gas distribution and transmission systems.
In addition, the company entered into multiple gas supply and storage contracts to ensure it has enough natural gas to supply its 511,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Electricity distribution upgrades
PECO said it completed three projects in which it upgraded its electricity distribution infrastructure to improve customer service to its 1.6 million electric consumers during the winter season.
The utility inspected more than 13,000 miles of aerial lines and 2,200 manholes to examine and make repairs to underground lines.
The three projects fall under the $500 million in funds which PECO spends each year towards ensuring its electric grid system meets customer demands.
Craig Adams, CEO of PECO, said: “This work is essential to meeting the increased natural gas and electricity needs of our customers during the coldest months of the year.
“This work begins months in advance and helps us meet the increased demand for energy when our customers need it the most.”
In addition to the infrastructure upgrade programmes, PECO is calling its customers to enroll under its texting programme in which customers can report outages and receive information on the status of their grid network. [Related news: National Grid and Eversource to meet demand with network upgrade].
Grid infrastructure upgrades
The news follows a late February announcement by Pennslvania power utilities’ cooperative, First Energy, that it received regulatory consent to upgrade its grid infrastructure.
The approval of the $245 million project by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission will allow the utility's members to replace underground and overhead electricity distribution lines.
The utilities will also install new substation equipment and additional pole replacements.
First Energy member utilities under the approved project include Pennsylvania Power Company, West Penn Power Company, Metropolitan Edison Company and Pennsylvania Electric Company.
In total, the cooperative has 10 member utilities and provides electricity services to 2 million consumers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York.
The project’s first phase expected to cost $56 million is set to be completed by end of 2016 with the remaining to stretch through to 2020.