State regulators on Thursday approved a Peco Energy Co. plan to double the amount it spends annually to replace aging gas mains, from $34 million to $61 million.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved Peco's plan to accelerate the pace at which it upgrades at-risk pipes from 34 years to 20 years. The PUC has been pressuring gas utilities to upgrade underground distribution networks.

The PUC's approval sets the stage for Peco to request a monthly customer fee known as a distribution system improvement charge, under a 2012 state law. The Philadelphia company serves more than 500,000 gas customers in suburban counties.

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