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Substation work approved, no rate increase expected

By Staff
Hartselle should have its own electrical substation capable of providing power for existing and future city needs in about two years.
J. W. Greenhill
Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle Utilities board members gave Stewart Engineering of Anniston the go-ahead to begin the engineering design for a new 161 kilovolt to 46,000-volt primary substation. That new primary substation, along with an accompanying 161 kV to 12,000-volt substation, should provide sufficient electrical capacity to the city for the next 22 years, according to Stewart's Lance Junkins.
The new substation will replace Hartselle's 35 percent share in the existing Joe Wheeler substation on Barkley Bridge Road. HU recently acquired sole title to two acres adjacent to the existing substation at a cost of $13,644. HU purchased the land as part of an effort to reduce HU's dependency on the aging Joe Wheeler facility.
The design will cost the electrical arm of the city utilities $298,000 when complete in about six to eight months. The entire project is estimated to cost the utility more than $4 million.
However, the new facility is not expected to translate into a rate increase for customers.
Board member Claude Morris quizzed utility financial director Greg Vandiver about the possibility of rate increases as a result of the new construction.
Vandiver assured Morris that the cost of the new substation and the new administrative building were considered during a TVA audit conducted before the utility implemented a 3 percent rate reduction last year.
Both projects were budgeted in capital improvement project scheduled across the next five years, Vandiver said.
The effort to build an independent power distribution facility dedicated to Hartselle was prompted by the age of the Joe Wheeler facility currently serving Hartselle.
The two main transformers at the substation are 35 years old with a useful life of 40 years. Failure by one or both of the transformers could put the entire city of Hartselle in the dark. Restoring power could take from hours to days, depending on the demand for power on the Joe Wheeler system and the extent of the failure.
The new substation will Hartselle "able to stand alone with complete redundancy for at least 22 years," Junkins said. The facility will also provide the capability for expansion to meet Hartselle's electrical needs in the future.

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