Electric Line Replacement Project Underway In Downtown Frederick

Potomac Edison says the project will last till  mid-summer.


Frederick, Md (KM). Potomac Edison has a major project underway in downtown Frederick. The utility is replacing some of its 12,000 volt underground distribution cables with new equipment to improve electric service for its 1600 customers in the area.

Since the 1976 Carroll Creek flood, the City of Frederick began burying its utilities underground. “It’s looks very nice, but there is a lot of stuff down there. Some of this electric line that was put in there dates back to the later 70’s,” says spokesman Todd Meyers. He says it still performs well, but it’s getting near the end of its useful life.

Meyers says the cable runs under Market Street and takes little turns down the numbered streets and hooks up some of the vaults.

He says this year’s project started in February and covers North Market Street from 7th Street to 2nd Street. That work is expected to be completed by mid-summer. The area of Market Street from 2nd Street to South Street will undergo line replacement next year.

When there are electric power outages on overhead lines, Meyers says Potomac Edison linemen can see whee the problem is located, and make repairs. But that’s not easy with underground lines and it takes time to locate the trouble spot. He says these new lines being installed in downtown Frederick will help reduce power outages. “When we do have an outage on the underground portion in the line, it’s a lot more difficult to find the problem,” he says. “We can still reconfigure the network so they’re {customers}  not out the whole time we’re making repairs That can be a lot more disruptive. The idea is trying to fix this before the problem happens.”

Potomac Edison says the project is a continuation of its commitment to making improvements to the electric service for customers in Frederick. In 2011, the utility spend $300,000 to upgrade equipment and install 21  fuse canisters in seven underground vaults below Market Street. It allows workers to isolate bad sections of wire so fewer customers are affected by power outages, according to Potomac Edison.

The company says it plans to spend $4-million to replace aging underground cable and equipment throughout its service area, with a focus on Frederick, Washington and Montgomery Counties.

Meyers says no roads will be torn up in downtown Frederick to replace these lines. But motorists may experience some delays due to the heavy equipment in the area. “There will be some areas where a lane is closed off, or part of a lane is closed off, or you can’t park along a certain block,” he says. “It’s takes about a week to do one of these sections. And we had to  work closely with the city for the right permits and to be allowed to close off that area for parking so we can get the equipment and so the guys can park.”

Potomac Edison is mostly using contractors for  this project. Meyers says utility’s employees are being used to maintain the system, and to be ready in case of weather emergencies which could lead to power outages.


By Kevin McManus