An advocate for Pepco customers is challenging the inclusion of a new $143-million substation as part of the Washington, D.C., utility’s $850-million grid upgrade, called Capital Grid. The advocate is asking the city’s Public Service Commission to reconsider its December approval of the substation, claiming the PSC failed to consider demand response, distributed energy and energy-efficiency programs.

The advocate, People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye, in a Jan. 21 filing said commission approval of the Mt. Vernon substation is based on flawed load growth projections from Pepco, which serves Washington and suburban Maryland. The utility experienced just about half of its projected load growth in 2018, said Mattavous-Frye. In its order, the commission said Pepco’s proposal would provide more reliable service during the most extreme summer weather. Pepco has not yet responded.

Last August, the regulator approved a separate phase of the Capital Grid project that includes upgrades to two existing substations as well as construction of 10 miles of 230 kV underground transmission lines. The underground wires will run from Takoma Park, Md., to the waterfront in Southwest D.C. Pepco on Jan. 21 awarded $250 million in contracts to five construction firms for the substation upgrades and underground lines.  About 77% of the total project work, and all of the below-ground construction, will be performed by certified Washington-based contractors. Those winning firms are Dynamic Concepts Inc. in joint venture with Illinois-based Meade; Anchor Construction; and CW & Sons Infrastructure. Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction Group also received a contract. All firms have committed to hiring graduates of the DC Infrastructure Academy to perform work on Capital Grid over the span of the project, which is set to begin in the first quarter of 2020 and continue through 2027, says Pepco.