A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Those voltage regulators: Looks were an issue

Written November 1st, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Workers continue installing a voltage regulatory bank on North Albany Road on Friday afternooon.

Those three big gray canisters on a scaffold along North Albany Road are voltage regulators Pacific Power has been installing over the last few days.

Back in August, the looks of a similar installation prompted criticism by Mayor Sharon Konopa. But now that they’re up, are people having to divert their gaze lest they be overcome by anguish and chagrin?

The council was briefed about this project on Aug. 14 because the installation would take place on city-owned right of way adjacent to North Albany Road.

“Konopa is concerned about how it will look,” the minutes of that meeting recall. Actually, the mayor called it “one ugly piece of equipment,” and she wondered about putting it elsewhere or having it screened, with trees maybe.

Matthew Ruettgers, development services manager in Albany Public Works, explained that Pacific needed the equipment to properly regulate electric loads in North Albany, and he said this was the best possible location. Presumably electric demand has increased with population and housing growth in North Albany over the last couple of decades.

From the standpoint of reliable electric service, without surges or outages, I’d say Pacific Power has no choice but to install whatever equipment their engineers say is required.

As far as looks are concerned, this bank of regulators is not any more unsightly than the giant steel monopoles the Bonneville Power Administration installed elsewhere in Albany a couple of years ago. Those poles have been there long enough I no longer notice them or the high-tension wires they hold up. Chances are Pacific’s regulators too will become routine parts of the landscape before long. (hh)

And a wider view from roughly the same angle.



10 responses to “Those voltage regulators: Looks were an issue”

  1. Christopher Marston says:

    Better to have Pacific Power provide an engineered and maintained power system compared to what Pacific Gas & Electric is providing in California with the frequent power blackouts.

  2. mike says:

    They seem to have installed a bank on Oakville road in the past year.. how dare they attempt to keep their power grid and service in order! Three more transformers OH NO!

  3. J. Jacobson says:

    The Mayor seems to hold many things she finds “objectionable” at arms length…things she finds unpleasant to look at. Power poles are not her only bugaboo. Check out the Mayor’s sense as to how Albany neighborhoods should be maintained to prevent “renters” from ruining Albany’s otherwise pristine image.


  4. Jim Engel says:

    Well don’t complain if you want lights on, TV on, micro wave on, yatta yatta. Albany is not Walden Pond nor will it come near it with a pristine image. Population & development begets mechanical & electrical infrastructure to provide comfort perks.

  5. Eliza says:

    I just wish they had buried the power lines when North Albany Road was improved.

    • centrist says:

      Buried power cables can be OK, depending on the voltage. Switchgear and transformers, not so much, given the water table. The design and installation rules for power equipment were written long ago, one destructive incident at a time.

  6. Thomas Aaron says:

    Didn’t notice the change one bit. Completely forgot about the whole ordeal until I saw the article.


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