The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program has awarded a grant to support investments in the local energy grid that will help to further improve service for PECO’s customers across southeastern Pennsylvania.
The grant provided to PECO is worth up to $100 million to support critical electric infrastructure investments to help reduce the impact of extreme weather and historic flooding on the company’s electric distribution system.
The grant will enable PECO to implement its comprehensive strategy, known as the CREATE (Creating a Resilient, Equitable, and Accessible Transformation in Energy) Plan, to improve reliability and resiliency in the face of a changing climate. The plan seeks to modernize aging infrastructure, relocate substation equipment away from flood-prone areas, and install microgrid and battery storage technology to support utility storm response.
“Extreme weather events fueled by climate change will continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will ensure America’s power grid can provide reliable, affordable power,” said U.S Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “Today’s announcement represents the largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden systems, improve energy reliability and affordability — all while generating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”
“With our extensive expertise in delivering large-scale utility infrastructure projects on time and on budget, and our focus on investing in reliability and resiliency, we are well-positioned to execute on our CREATE Plan,” said PECO President and CEO Mike Innocenzo. “Leveraging this federal grant will also allow us to increase grid capacity to enable renewable energy, electric vehicle charging, and job growth in our region while minimizing the impact on customer bills.”
The CREATE Plan incorporates labor engagement, workforce training, education, supplier diversity, engagement with disadvantaged communities, and community-based energy resiliency investments as core elements of a region-wide approach to improving the electric distribution infrastructure for all customers. Working with a broad range of community partners, PECO will support programs that focus on introducing individuals from diverse communities to employment in the energy industry and coordinate with contractors, vendors, and project partners to promote opportunities for graduates of these programs into family-sustaining careers.
One of PECO’s community partners is the School District of Philadelphia, which provided a letter of support for PECO’s grant application. A portion of the grant award will support PECO’s Clean and Resilient Community Schools initiative, a PECO-led flexible fund that will offer grants to schools for climate resilience, clean energy, efficiency, education, and community-focused investments.
“This program and funding will empower the School District of Philadelphia to implement vital energy efficiency, clean energy, and resiliency projects through PECO’s Clean and Resilient Schools Partnership Program,” said School District of Philadelphia superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. “This support will help maximize learning and benefit our communities as a whole by providing students with access to more sustainable school environments.”
The funding was made available by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-a-generation $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure initiative focused on building resilient infrastructure, accelerating an equitable, clean energy transition, and creating good-paying jobs in communities. Under the Act, the DOE GRIP program provides approximately $4.8 billion nationally for grants to enhance grid flexibility and improve the resilience of the nation’s power grid against growing threats of extreme weather and climate change. In addition to PECO’s grant, Exelon sister-utility ComEd in Chicago was also awarded a $50 million grant for electric grid resiliency efforts.
As part of the CREATE Plan, PECO will establish a standing forum where energy and environmental issues, including clean energy access, that impact disadvantaged communities can be discussed with community leaders to help inform PECO policies and practices. The group will be composed of community representatives recommended by elected officials and key community stakeholders from across PECO’s service territory.
Overall, the CREATE Plan provides a comprehensive platform for the Greater Philadelphia region’s energy future, delivering significant reliability and resilience benefits and advancing energy equity in disadvantaged communities. These efforts will provide a scalable model for local climate resilience and long-term participation in the sustainable energy economy. Economic models forecast that the capital investment associated with the plan will have a total positive employment impact of 2,600 jobs.
Beyond the CREATE Plan, PECO continues to work with the community leaders in support of additional efforts to bring funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to support a broad range of clean energy, climate resiliency, economic development, and energy equity investments to the region.
Learn more about PECO and how its 2,900 employees are dedicated to the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and natural gas.