As you can see, Pacific Power is getting ready to start expanding the Hazelwood Substation in southwest Albany, a project intended to improve electric service in the Albany and Corvallis areas.
The hearings board of the Albany Planning Commission approved a conditional use and other permits on July 30, and the main question left unanswered at the time was about the timing of the construction.
That question has an answer now. Material for the project has been stored on the Queen Avenue side of the substation property. And Pacific spokesman Tom Gauntt says the actual construction will start in the coming weeks and is scheduled to be complete by December 2021.
I asked about the cost. Gauntt says the utility is investing $4 million in this project, which is intended to improve reliability of electric service and accommodate future growth in demand for power.
As described for the city hearings board, the expansion involves the construction of a new “ring bus” at the substation. Pacific owns five tax lots between Queen and 17th Avenue, including a long-vacant small house that will be demolished to make room for the installation.
Pacific Power crews along with contractors, including Magnum Power LLC of Kelso, Wash., will do the work.
Gaunt says that not only will the project improve reliability in the immediate area, but it will also benefit the broader area: “Having more capacity and more connections to alternate transmission lines makes the grid stronger and more flexible.”
Flexibility is the key because, he says, “it allows for power to come from alternate generation locations and the use of the many transmission lines serving the power grid. When storms, maintenance or construction activities complicate our power delivery, Pacific Power uses the flexible grid to maintain reliable service.”
In addition, he says, enhancement of the substation makes it easier to supply low-cost generation when it’s available.
We all know the sinking feeling when the lights go out in a storm, or when a crash somewhere takes out a pole. If the substation work makes that less likely, the cost is money well spent. (hh)