PITTSBURGH — Duquesne Light Company (DLC) and Burns & McDonnell recently began construction of a comprehensive underground distribution reliability enhancement program in the heart of Pittsburgh. Burns & McDonnell is providing full engineer-procure-construct (EPC) services throughout the life of the project. The major infrastructure investment will enable DLC to continue fulfilling the electric needs of Pittsburgh — home to more than 300,000 residents as well as the Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University campuses.
“As our region looks to incorporate more sustainable energy sources, this program is crucial to creating additional capacity to help power advanced technologies, including electric vehicles and solar panels,” says John Hilderbrand II, vice president of operations at DLC. “Duquesne Light Company is committed to providing the level of service and reliability customers have come to expect while increasing the overall resiliency of the electric grid. This program is more than just an investment in critical infrastructure; it is an investment in the future of our community.”
The reliability enhancement program is being executed as part of the Pittsburgh Port Authority’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) initiative, which will create exclusive bus lanes between downtown and the city’s eastern neighborhoods. Critical gas, water, sewer and electrical infrastructure upgrades are taking place citywide prior to the commencement of roadway improvements in 2023. The infrastructure upgrades began earlier this summer and are expected to be complete over the next couple years in coordination with various other utility systems being replaced along the corridor.
During that time, DLC and Burns & McDonnell will replace 2.5 miles of electric duct bank and 86,000 feet of cable. The project team will also upgrade more than 30 electrical circuits and replace manholes. Installing and powering multiple gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) substations is an integral part of the program, with DLC’s Riazzi Substation being the first online. Much like other utilities providing electricity in urban areas, DLC selected the GIS substation model due to its advantages in space requirements, aesthetics and reliability.
“Safe and reliable electric power requires the utmost creativity and innovation,” says Scott Newland, senior vice president and general manager at Burns & McDonnell. “The complexities of these upgrades — traffic planning, urban construction, engineering challenges, safety considerations and more — make this an incredibly exciting, progressive project for our firm. By working closely with other utilities and companies performing construction in the area and partnering with local diverse businesses and suppliers, this program delivers tremendous value to Pittsburgh’s residents by combining multiple infrastructure upgrades into one overall effort. This collaborative approach to the BRT initiative will see that communities across Pittsburgh receive the highest quality of power possible while optimizing costs and schedule.”
Burns & McDonnell, with experienced professionals who have developed some of the largest transmission and distribution projects in North America, uses an integrated EPC approach for seamless transitions and future-focused collaboration throughout the project life cycle. The firm ranks No. 1 in Power, is the No. 4 firm in Telecommunications and ranks among the top 20 design firms in the Mid-Atlantic region, according to Engineering News-Record.