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Hartselle Enquirer

HU upgrades designed to keep city's lights shining

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
The addition of two new substations has made Hartselle Utilities electrical service more powerful and more reliable for its customers.
Installation of the side-by-side substations was completed this week on Barkley Bridge Road and currently serves 100 percent of Hartselle Utilities' customers.
The substations were a $3.3 million capital investment wholly owned by HU. HU does not plan any increase in electrical rates in connection with the work.
HU General Manager George Adair said substation upgrades are the largest in the utility's history.
"The substations are sized and configured to provide abundant capacity with full backup and to support the growth of HU's customers for the next 30 to 50 years," Adair said. "This replaces aging facilities constructed in the 1960s that had suffered major component failures in the past two years."
A citywide blackout in August 2003 forced businesses and schools to close their doors and left the city without a viable transformer.
Hartselle's only electrical substation on Barkley Bridge Road was affected by a series of lightning strikes that caused a mass power outage to 5,200 Hartselle Utilities customers.
The downed transformer was approximately 40 years old. After the incident, the entire city of Hartselle operated off one aging transformer supplied by Joe Wheeler until December when a new transformer was purchased and installed by HU.
Adair feels confident the city won't be left in the dark again.
"HU's primary load can be carried by one of the two new, primary transformers and HU's entire customer load can be carried by any two of its three distribution stations," Adair said. "HU did not have this type of redundancy in its use of the old substation."
System upgrades have prompted HU's depreciation-adjusted electrical plant value to increase by $5.2 million, or 118 percent, in the last five years, according to Adair.
"HU's construction of the new substations is part of its intensive program to upgrade its electrical system citywide," Adair said. "This has included the installation of new circuit breakers and voltage regulators at its two distribution substations, the upsizing of many lines to keep up with growth, and the installation of lightning arrestors and the re-configuring of transformer mounting to reduce susceptibility to storm damage."
The new substations are being fully equipped with SCADA remote monitoring and control systems, and TVA has made upgrades giving Hartselle the full benefit of dual TVA feed.
HU Electrical Superintendent Doug Keel said the improvements are not only beneficial to HU customers, but also HU employees. "We can now focus on daily maintenance instead of constantly tackling reoccurring problems," Keel said. "HU should be set in terms of electrical capacity for at least 40 years."

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