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News Wrap: NJ Utility Gets Funds; 2014 Activity to Rise; HUD & DEP Competitions; Pulaski Job Award

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Photo Courtesy of Atlantic City Electric
Wired Up: Atlantic City Electric plans to spend $934 million on its distribution system and operations during the next five years.
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Atlantic City Electric has received approval for a base rate increase aimed at helping it with ongoing investments for Superstorm Sandy repairs as well as for new infrastructure and upgrades. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) authorized the utility late last month to increase its electric distribution rates by 28%, or $25.5 million, beginning July 1.

The rate adjustment is 36% of the utility's original request, which was filed last December. The adjustment includes system restoration costs of about $70 million from both Sandy last October and the "derecho" storm in June, the South Jersey-based utility says. These costs will be partially recovered over a three-year period, it says.

AC Electric has already replaced about 220 transformers, 185 utility poles and more than 286,300 ft of wire following Sandy. About 220,000 of AC Electric's 547,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm (ENR New York 6/10 p. 41).

The utility also plans to spend about $934 million on its distribution system and operations during the next five years. But the level of rate recovery, even with the increase, is "not sufficient to maintain that level of capital spending," AC Electric says. As a result, the utility has proposed reducing its capital expenditures by 30%—about $150 million—between now and 2015.

Vince Maione, AC Electric Region president, said in a June 25 statement that the utility is "disappointed" about scaling back its capital investments. But, he adds, it will continue to significantly upgrade infrastructure. This includes building new and upgrading existing infrastructure, building new substations, and, where warranted, replacing wooden utility poles with steel poles.


New York City

NYBC Study: Building Boom Ahead for 2014

New York City construction spending is expected to increase 6.2% this year to $32 billion and rise 24% to $37.3 billion from 2012 to 2014, largely due to growth in residential and office development, according to a New York Building Congress (NYBC) study.

The study, which is a mid-year update of NYBC's annual analysis of current and projected construction activity, reflects an increase in the group's projections since last October.

"The upward revisions in our forecast—from data compiled over the past few months, particularly for the private sector—are extremely encouraging," said Richard Anderson, NYBC president. The strong private sector uptick predictions are also in line with results from ENR New York's general contractors survey (see p. 15).

Non-residential spending is expected to climb 38% this year to $13.5 billion and reach $15.5 billion in 2014. Spending in the residential sector, which suffered the steepest drop after the recession, is forecast to grow 17% to $6 billion in 2013.

Government spending, which includes investments in mass transit, public schools, roads, bridges and other essential infrastructure, is expected to drop 18% to $12.4 billion in 2013 from $15.1 billion in 2012.

Meanwhile, the study forecast that construction employment will reach 119,800 in 2013, up from 114,900 last year.



HUD Launches Sandy Rebuilding Competition

The federal government has launched a post-Superstorm Sandy competition for regional designers to create disaster prevention plans.

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has launched Rebuild by Design, a multistage competition aimed at generating designs that increase resiliency in vulnerable coastal communities.

With oversight from President Obama's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, the competition will identify and target vulnerabilities in one of four categories: coastal communities, high-density urban environments, ecological networks and an open category for other innovative proposals.

HUD is seeking expertise in areas including engineering, landscape design and urban planning. For more details on how to submit proposals, due by July 20, visit the agency's website at hud.gov.

The competition follows New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announced $19.5-billion long-term resiliency proposal to make the city more resilient in dealing with adverse weather. The 438-page proposal includes several competitions around engineering and construction innovations.


New York City


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