Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. (Con Edison) last Wednesday said it plans to invest more than $1.7 billion this year to upgrade and reinforce its electric delivery system, while continuing to press its customers to be more energy efficient.

The utility’s investments this year mark the highest amount ever spent in anticipation of peak summer electricity usage, Con Edison said. The company plans to install almost 10 million feet of cable, or enough to stretch from Augusta, ME, to Key West, FL, and add more than 1,700 new transformers. It opened two new substations in the New York market in early May.

In addition, Con Edison in April proposed 11 new energy efficiency programs to benefit both residential and commercial customers. If the programs are approved by the Public Service Commission, the goal is to cut demand by 500 MW by 2015, offsetting enough energy to power half a million homes.

So far Con Edison’s energy efficiency efforts have permitted the postponement of more than $230 million in capital projects for up to four years, the utility said. Over the next 10 years, the company believes its efforts will allow it to postpone the building of five substations.

Of the $1.7 billion in planned investments, Con Edison estimated it will spend $930 million on its distribution system, including $471 million for upgrades to cables and transfers, and $157 million to support new business growth; $526 million on substation-related projects, transformers and circuit breakers, including two new substations opened in Manhattan and Westchester County; and $203 million for transmission upgrades, including $177 million for system reliability, new computer equipment and software.

Con Edison said it expects to spend more than $5.2 billion in the next three years on its electric delivery system to maintain reliability and support significant economic growth projected in its service area.

<>Con Edison forecasts an electrical peak load of 13,775 MW this summer in its service area, including a projected peak of 11,964 MW for New York City and 1,811 MW for Westchester County. This would surpass the record peak of 13,141 MW set on Aug. 2, 2006. The utility said power supplies are sufficient to meet the expected peak demand this summer, and that New York City has more than enough power supply to meet the 80% in-city generation requirement. However, it advised customers to conserve energy whenever possible during periods of excessive heat and humidity.

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