Our communities continue to develop and thrive, and the demand for energy is growing. As a result, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) is working to maintain a level of service and reliability that our customers have come to expect and need.
DLC customers in Moon Township, Robinson Township, Kennedy Township, Crescent Township, McKees Rocks Borough and the City of Pittsburgh are served by a network of 138-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines that were originally installed more than 100 years ago when the region looked very different than it does today. This network needs to be upgraded to better serve our customers who live and work in this part of the region. As such, we are planning to replace the transmission line that stretches from our substation in Crescent Township, PA, to our substation located on Brunot Island on the Ohio River just west of downtown Pittsburgh.
Through this project, DLC will replace some of the company’s oldest infrastructure, as well as infrastructure damaged by landslides caused by severe weather in 2018. The design and technology upgrades will help deliver reliable, affordable and safe energy more efficiently to homes, businesses and communities throughout this area.
We realize you may have questions about this important transmission project, and want to be transparent about all the facts. Please watch the following video and review the information found on this webpage to learn more about the BI-Crescent transmission reliability project:
Duquesne Light Company will need to access our existing tower locations by installing erosion and control measures, creating access roads and building work pads in various areas to support the project. We will then demolish the existing lattice-style towers, remove them from the right-of-way and install new foundations for modern monopole structures. After a series of structures are erected, we will install new conductor and shield wires on the new poles. Once the new wires are inspected and functional, we will restore the temporary access and replant vegetation in the disturbed area.
Existing Lattice Tower Structure
Duquesne Light Company has filed an amended application for this project with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which was approved October 2021. Construction for this multi-phased project will start December 2021 and will end by 2027.
Surveying and soil testing will start the construction portion of Phase 1 beginning December 2021. Substantial construction in the area of this phase is slated for completion in spring 2022. Landscaping and property restoration activities will later in the spring and early summer.
*Please note that schedules for Phases 2 through 5 will be released when additional permits and scheduling are finalized.
The BI-Crescent project will impact the transmission lines and towers from the DLC substation in Crescent Township, PA, to the substation located on Brunot Island along the Ohio River just west of downtown Pittsburgh – a distance of approximately 14.5 miles. This area will see increased construction traffic and activity along the right-of-way corridor.
*Phase 1 is in Robinson Township, as shown on the map below. This portion of the project involves replacement of six (6) structures.
During and after construction, Duquesne Light Company will continue to perform routine inspections on the BI-Crescent transmission line and respective structures. Typically, there are 4 types of inspections: helicopter, drone, Right of Way (ROW), and subsurface inspection. For the most part, these inspections will go unnoticed as many are very quick procedures, but we wanted to bring them to your attention:
Helicopter – Above Grade Inspections
Helicopters will be utilized for above grade inspection. These inspections are performed at low altitude flights hovering above the circuit. We estimate these inspections to be less than 2 minutes per structure, and they’ll be conducted yearly until replacement is complete.
Drone – Above Grade Inspections
Recently, DLC has increased the use of drones throughout our inspection procedures. Drones provide additional angles during an inspection not obtained from ground level or during low altitude flights. The flight crew accesses each structure by foot and establishes a designed launch and landing pad roughly 50-100 feet away from the structure. Drone inspections are estimated to take roughly 30 mins per structure and should be completed by December 2020.
ROW – At Grade Inspections
DLC internal inspection crews will perform at grade inspections on this circuit to identify any issues along its corridor. DLC Employees access each structure by walking the Right-Of-Way and reporting any issues discovered. At grade inspections are estimated to take roughly 10 minutes per structure and will be completed every 5 years routinely.
Subsurface – Below Grade inspections
The grillage foundation, below grade structure steel members, will be inspected by excavating each leg to a 3 feet depth. Access to each tower will be done by foot or with the use of light trucks utilizing the best access point from public right-of-way. Once accessed, only two legs will be excavated at a time and backfilled prior to starting the remaining two. Orange fence is erected around each open excavation to provide the necessary safety measures. Below grade grillage tower inspections are expected to take 4 days per structure and will be completed by June of 2021.
In all cases, these inspections are necessary so we can continue providing safe and reliable power. To minimize any inconvenience to customers, the inspections will be conducted only during daylight hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Duquesne Light owns and operates electric transmission facilities from the Brunot Island (“BI”) substation in the City of Pittsburgh to the Crescent Township substation in Crescent Township. Duquesne Light refers to the proposed construction work from BI to Crescent Township as the BI-Crescent Project.
Duquesne Light is proposing to replace 106 existing transmission towers (“structures”), which were initially built approximately 100 years ago.
Not necessarily. The BI-Crescent Project proposes eliminating approximately 7 structures.
The new structures will be located along the same route of the existing structures. Specifically, the new structures will be placed along the 14.5 miles between the Brunot Island Substation to the Crescent Township substation.
Yes. In connection with the BI-Crescent Project and consistent with Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) regulations, Duquesne Light conducted a siting study. The goal of the siting study was to select a reasonable route for the BI-Crescent Project and consider alternative routes for evaluation that are environmentally sound, feasible from an engineering and economic perspective, and compliant with applicable regulations. The existing route is the shortest and has the least impacts from an environmental, human/built, cultural, and engineering perspective.
If approved by the PUC the new structures will be “weathered” steel monopoles. The existing structures have a steel “lattice” configuration, which look like large silver steel triangles. The new structures are designed to fit into the natural environment. The new structure is a singular, reddish-brown, upright structure.
The new structures vary in height, but on average, the new structures will be approximately 155 feet high. The existing structures vary in height, but on average, are 93 feet high.
The BI-Crescent Project must be designed, maintained, and operated in accordance with the National Electric Safety Code, or “NESC.” Current NESC standards provide minimum wire clearances. In example: The NESC provides requirements for the clearance from wire to ground, which in turn increases the new structure height. Clearances required by the NESC from phase to phase also increases the new structure height. .
All NESC Rules that relate to 138kV voltage clearances as well as NESC loading and strength requirements would apply to the BI-Crescent Project.
No. The existing structures support two 138 kilovolt (“kV”) lines. The new structures will support the same voltages. The existing towers have one 138 kV line on each side of the structures. The new structures will have both 138 kV lines on the same side. When the Company originally submitted the BI-Crescent Project to the PUC, it proposed building the BI-Crescent Project to higher voltage standards. Based on customer feedback and generation changes in the region, Duquesne Light is submitting an amended proposal to the PUC. The amended proposal does not propose building to higher voltage standards. As mentioned above, the BI-Crescent Project does not change the existing 138kV voltage.
The new structures will be sturdier, safer, and will meet current NESC standards, which will allow the Company to deliver safe and reliable electric service to the region. Simply put, the existing transmission facilities are at or near the end of their useful lives.
There are several reasons Duquesne Light is not proposing underground transmission facilities for the BI-Crescent Project. For example, the outages involving the underground electric facilities take more time to resolve compared to overhead facilities. Additionally, underground cables last half as long as overhead facilities. In Western Pennsylvania where the terrain consists of steep slopes, hills, and rock, constructing an underground transmission line would significantly increase the project cost. Duquesne Light remains conscious of any increased costs to its customers, and has chosen not to underground the existing above-ground facilities as a safe, reliable, and cost-effective option for the benefit of its customers at large.
No. In fact, the exposure to electromagnetic fields (“EMFs”) remains at the same level at the edge of the right-of-way. The BI-Crescent Project has EMF levels that are below the allowable EMF exposure as outlined by the World Health Organization.
Duquesne Light must routinely inspect the growth around its facilities to make sure trees or brush are not interfering with its facilities. Maintaining the vegetation around the transmission facilities is important to prevent trees or other vegetation from causing power outages or reliability issues. To prevent regrowth, Duquesne Light uses herbicides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and best industry practices.
Duquesne Light is happy to address any comments, questions, or concerns you may have about the BI-Crescent Project. Feel free to email BI-Crescent@duqlight.com. You can also visit the official filings on the PUC’s website, http://www.puc.state.pa.us/, by searching for Docket Number A-2019-3008589.
If you have any questions or comments about this project, please contact us at (412) 393-6500 or email BI-Crescent@duqlight.com.