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Hughes Lane Substation getting upgrades to increase capacity to Baker Industrial Park

Baker City, Oregon (OTEC) — Crews from Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative will soon begin upgrades to the Hughes Lane Substation that cooperative leaders hope will have a direct impact on encouraging economic development in Baker County.

Once completed, the upgrades will double the electrical capacity in the area and will provide additional capacity to accommodate growth of existing businesses and also help attract new businesses in the Baker Industrial Park along Settlers Loop and 17th Street.

“In the past, when a prospective industrial customer asked for cost of service for one megawatt or more, it was very expensive because our system was at its capacity and we had to include the cost of upgrading expensive system infrastructure. We will now be able to handle new growth up to 10 megawatts of load in the industrial park area at a much lower price tag, which should help attract industry to the area, “said Kelly Jobes, an OTEC system engineer.
Located on 17th Street near Hughes Lane, the substation upgrade includes a new transformer that will increase the substation’s capacity by 10 megawatts. For reference, Jobes said that a typical grocery store or industrial customer in Baker County uses around a half megawatt, where the lumber mills in Baker and Union county use between two and eight megawatts of power each, depending on size.
“We continuously monitor our electric distribution system to ensure that we are able to meet the power needs of our members and plan for future growth,” OTEC General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Les Penning said. “Installing a new transformer and doubling the load capacity at the Hughes Lane Substation will ensure that we continue to provide reliable power to our current and future members.”

The capital budget project is expected to cost approximately $500,000 when it is completed. Work on the substation will start Monday, Aug. 20, and is expected to be completed by Friday, Aug. 31. Jobes said there should be no interruption of power due to the upgrade work.

[LP1] “Upgrading the Hughes Lane Substation transformer was already scheduled on our work plan to be replaced in a few years due to age, but it was moved up toward the end of 2017 as a strategic priority  after receiving feedback from many of our community leaders,” said Penning.

The Hughes Lane Substation is one of 21 on Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s electric grid that takes power from high-voltage transmission lines and reduces it to a lower voltage so it can be distributed to the cooperative’s members. Hughes Lane Substation supplies power to a blend of industrial customers, small businesses, and residence along Hughes Lane, 17th Street, and 10th Street in Baker City.

Jobes said the cooperative has long-range plans to convert its transmission lines from 69,000 volts to 138,000 volts. The new substation upgrades will accommodate those plans.

“The new transformer can be operated at 69,000 or 138,000 volts,” he said. “It does make it one step closer to converting our transmission line to a higher voltage, which allows for more efficient transfer of power, frees up additional capacity for the future, and allows for more flexibility for alternate transmission feeds between La Grande and Baker.”

Jobes said line crews have been making progress along the OTEC system upgrading transmission lines to 138,000 volts.

“OTEC has been rebuilding our transmission lines the past seven years because of age and deterioration. Most of these lines were originally built in the 1920s and 1960s,” Jobes said. “As these lines have been replaced, they have been rebuilt for the 138,000-volt system, which is a very low incremental cost and a good long-term investment. Load growth will ultimately drive the need to eventually convert from 69,000- to 138,000 volts, and when it does, we will be ready.”

 [LP1]I am good with this being a quote form me or Kelly, just thought we could combine them if it works.