Construction of the substation has "been very targeted in thesense that certain areas of the city have experienced positiveeconomic development. With that, we need to invest in theinfrastructure to anticipate increased demand for electricity andupgrade our facilities to handle it," says Wood. PECO also seesthis as an opportunity to modernize some of the city's agingelectricity infrastructure.

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"Particularly in the Old City and Center City sections ofdowntown, the substations and underground infrastructure is decadesold and these new facilities will replace substations that havebeen nearing retirement age," Wood explains.

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Southwark is the third of four new substations in thePhiladelphia area. The Tuna substation along North Delaware Avenuewas completed in 2005, followed by the Waverly substation in CenterCity in 2007. A fourth substation, which will support theUniversity City and West Philadelphia area, is planned forcompletion in 2009. These four substations represent a $120 millioninvestment in the city's electric distribution system.

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In anticipation of the summertime rise in demand forelectricity, PECO is also investing in about 80 substations in thecommunities surrounding Philadelphia.

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"In some areas, we're adding additional distribution automationand communication devices that help us better operate the systemand identify electrical faults our outages and respond to them morequickly," says Wood.

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"We also have a number of other new electric substations in thesuburban counties. Our summer readiness projects are areas wherethe city and suburban counties are experiencing growth and we needto either upgrade substations or build new distribution circuits tobetter distribute the load."

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All told, the capacity expansion projects will account forone-third of the company's $394 million capital investments for theyear.

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"Obviously, utility services are very capital intensive andrequire large infrastructure improvements each year," says Wood."There will likely be increased spending over the next five toseven years. It's a significant commitment by the company to ensurethat it keeps pace with growth in our region and modernizes oursystem."

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