Archive for January 16, 2019

Pepco Meets with Community to Discuss Harvard Disstribution Project

January 16, 2019

Travoris Culpepper, Pepco’s Public Affairs Manager, sharing information and taking questions.

As part of Pepco’s larger efforts to increase service and reliability to the District’s electrical system, Pepco began the Harvard Distribution Project in October of 2018 to provide load shedding to the Ft. Slocum Substation as well as preliminary work to upgrade the Harvard Substation. Thus far, construction has primarily been along W Street, NW, between 13th and 10th Streets. Much of this work has been done and construction should be completed on W Street by the end of January 2019 (weather permitting). While this all sounds good, the construction on W Street has been extremely disruptive, with residents along the project describing extreme noise and vibrations causing cracks in their home’s plaster and mortar. These concerns resulted in Pepco hosting a community meeting on January 15, 2019, to provide an overview of the project’s timeline, address concerns, and  provide a general idea of what to expect in the coming months and years.

In response to feedback Pepco received concerning the work along W Street, NW, Pepco stated it heard the residents loud and clear. They will work with their crews to address noise as much as possible. They confirmed that most of the digging along W Street is completed, but that there are still steel plates in use. To dampen sound, they have begun putting wood chips beneath the plates. As Pepco moves forward, they will also consider excavating smaller sections when they have to cut into the existing pavement.

For the Harvard Distribution Project, the basic timeline, route of construction, and how they are parsed by section can be seen in the illustration below. Construction began on W Street in October 2018, and the project will run through Summer 2019 — impacting Sherman Avenue, Girard Street, 10th Street, and Harvard Street.

All in all, Pepco crews will be installing nearly 8,500 ft. of conduit and 21 manholes along the route illustrated above. Residents along the route can expect:

  • Trenching and temporary steel plates;
  • Installation of duct banks and manholes; and,
  • Installation of cable.

The project will also be used, as part of the Capital Grid Project, to supply the Harvard Substation load in advance of the substation rebuild. Set details about the Capital Grid Project’s timelines were not available at the meeting due to the case still being under review by the Public Service Commission. That said, Pepco thinks the timeline for the Harvard Substation rebuild/replacement will be similar to what is shared below, with demolition happening perhaps by the end of this year, construction in 2020, and completed in either 2020 or 2021.

One significant point that was raised by Darren Jones of the Pleasant Plains Civic Association at the meeting was the concern about power outages. Pepco addressed the need to cut electrical service when the new cables and substation are eventually brought online. Pepco representatives were unable to estimate when the power would need to be disrupted, or even for how many people, but stated that once the Public Service Commission has finished with their review and they have a better idea on that aspect of the project, they would be able to better calculate when the outage will occur and what the size of the area will be. Generally, a planned outage will occur overnight beginning around 11pm and last for 4-6 hours. Scheduled outages are necessary when new cables are hooked up and will be necessary when a rebuilt Harvard Substation is completed and connected to the system.

Pepco restated their commitment to work with the community and provide notice to households that they expect will be impacted. Jennifer Kuiper of the Lower Georgia Avenue Main Streets specifically addressed how service disruptions can severely impact small businesses like the ones on Georgia Avenue and requested that Pepco meet separately with small business owners to help ensure that their concerns are heard and needs met. Pepco stated they would definitely do this.

More information will be forthcoming once the Public Service Commission has finished their review of the Capital Grid Project. For now, it looks like most of the construction will be south of Columbia Road and predominately on Sherman Avenue.


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