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Mayor Bowser Introduces Legislation to Expand Contracting Opportunities for Small and Local Businesses

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Council passed legislation introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser to expand contracting opportunities for small and local businesses by giving preference to certified business enterprises (CBEs) in power line undergrounding construction contracts and architectural and engineering contracts. The Power Line Undergrounding Program Certified Business Enterprise Utilization Emergency Act of 2018, the Power Line Undergrounding Program Certified Business Enterprise Utilization Temporary Act of 2018, and the Power Line Undergrounding Program Certified Business Enterprise Utilization Emergency Declaration Resolution Act of 2018 will clarify and update certain provisions of the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2014 in order to expand contracting opportunities for CBEs.

“Small and local businesses are the backbone of our economy—when they thrive, our community thrives,” said Mayor Bowser. “With DC PLUG, we have many opportunities for work, and with this legislation, we can better ensure that our small and local businesses are first in line for those jobs.”

The District’s power line undergrounding program (DC PLUG) is a multiyear effort to place certain overhead electrical lines underground in order to reduce the number of power outages during weather events and to increase the resiliency of the power distribution system. The Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2014, which authorized certain aspects of the program, included a goal that 100 percent of the DC PLUG construction contracts be awarded to District businesses.

The Mayor worked with Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie on the Power Line Undergrounding Program Certified Business Enterprise Utilization Emergency Act of 2018 to make clear that the goal applies to small and local businesses. The legislation will change the goal for contracting 100 percent of DC PLUG construction contracts with “District businesses” to a goal of contracting 100 percent of the DC PLUG construction contracts with “certified business enterprises or certified joint ventures.” Additionally, it will authorize the Office of Contracting and Procurement and the District Department of Transportation to provide CBE preference points for architectural and engineering contracts.

“I’m pleased to support the Power Line Undergrounding Program Certified Business Enterprise Utilization Emergency Act of 2018, which clarifies the intent of legislation I previously championed. That legislation, the Electric Company Infrastructure Improvement Financing Act of 2013 (B20-0387), seeks to improve the reliability of our electrical service by moving targeted power lines underground,” said Councilmember McDuffie. “As the District embarks on this large infrastructure project, it is critically important to keep as many dollars as possible within the District and maximize CBE and SBE participation to provide them with additional economic benefits.”

DC PLUG represents a public-private partnership between DC Government and Pepco that will result in the strategic undergrounding of overhead feeders in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8. Through this initiative, the high-voltage feeders most affected by outages will be installed underground. About half of the District is already served by undergound lines. Secondary and service lines will remain overhead on the existing poles.