PECO Prioritizes Infrastructure Investment

PECO takes a long-term view when it comes to infrastructure maintenance.
Published: Tue 13 May 2014

Run-to-Failure maintenance can prove to be very expensive in the long run. Many utilities claim that the high costs of maintenance cause them to opt for this form of maintenance. However, these high costs eventually catch up with decision-makers in the form of unplanned downtime, damaged machinery and overtime expenditure. In fact, the total bill can sometimes be more than the original maintenance quote.

Our article, How Effective are the Utility’s Asset Management Platforms?, discusses how utilities should assess their asset portfolio by taking a holistic point of view and drawing on sound asset management platforms. [Read Engerati: Asset Management Can Improve Your Bottom Line-A Case Study.]

PECO’s infrastructure maintenance progress

A really good example of this foresight is the constant infrastructure maintenance and upgrades that PECO undertakes. From January through March this year, PECO, an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation in southeastern Pennsylvania, completed over 200 projects to enhance electric service reliability for its customers.

The company invests approximately US$500 million annually to improve its electric system infrastructure, including performing preventive maintenance and upgrading equipment.

Specifically, 168 projects were completed on 44 circuits to further improve service to customers. These corrective and preventive maintenance projects were identified through PECO's targeted circuit performance analysis program.

Reducing power outages

In addition, 19 "reclosers" have been installed on aerial lines across the service territory since January. During the last decade, PECO has reduced the number and length of power outages through the use of advanced equipment like reclosers. There are currently more than 1,550 reclosers installed on PECO's electric distribution system across the region. These devices will help reduce the number of outages and help improve electric service for customers. So far this year, reclosers installed across the PECO service territory have prevented more than 78,000 sustained power interruptions. PECO continues to invest in this advanced equipment and additional devices will be installed throughout the year.

To help prevent power outages caused by vegetation, PECO continues to install tree-resistant aerial wire called Hendrix wire. This specific electric wire is stronger than most aerial wire and can better withstand falling trees and tree limbs. Currently, more than 15 miles of Hendrix wire has been installed across the service territory. During the first few months of 2014, PECO began installing approximately 3,700 feet of this wire in heavily wooded areas of Montgomery County. An additional 7,000 feet of Hendrix wire will be installed in targeted suburban areas through the remainder of 2014.

PECO also continues its rigorous tree trimming program to limit the amount of power outages caused by trees and other vegetation. The company invests about US$35 million each year on tree pruning and other vegetation removal around approximately 2,400 miles (of our total 13,500 miles) of aerial power lines along the PECO electric distribution and transmission system.

Improving reliability

"We are always looking for opportunities to improve our performance for our customers," said Mike Innocenzo, PECO senior vice president and COO. "By performing preventive and corrective maintenance, we are able to keep the lights on longer for our customers and restore service faster when power outages do occur."

PECO's ongoing system enhancement projects contributed to the company's record-breaking electric and natural gas reliability performance in 2013, with customers experiencing the fewest number of outages in the company's history, surpassing previous records set in 2012.