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River Road Substation returns to service after infrastructure upgrades

October 26, 2023 Robyn Smith, EWEB Communications

Man tests controls at a substation

Last year, the transformer at the River Road substation experienced equipment failure and was deemed no longer fit for service. Since then, the power for roughly 3,000 customers has been rerouted through other substations, thanks to EWEB's robust electric grid. Supply chain shortages and proactive infrastructure investments, including constructing seismic foundations and implementing control modernization, have played a role in the substation's return-to-service timeline. 

In the last few weeks, EWEB installed a new transformer, and after testing station controls, the River Road substation is again ready for operation. All that remains is to complete the final testing on the cables exiting the substation to the distribution system.

new substation transformer

"Utilities are often at risk of extended power outages because they don't have the infrastructure to back-feed a whole substation if they need to make repairs, but EWEB's distribution system is robust enough to handle the extra load for a while without issues," said Nathan Garrelts, EWEB systems engineer. "We're fortunate to have the extra time to design and execute upgrades to maintain reliable service for years to come."

Returning the substation to service before the winter storm season ensures that EWEB will have more flexibility to reroute power to customers if storm-related power outages occur. "We prefer to be in a position where we have all the options available to us to keep the power on," said Garrelts.

Thirty-eight substations, often called EWEB's "resilient spine," connect the utility's electric grid. The redundancy of substations ensures reliable power flows to homes and businesses despite unexpected equipment failures and routine maintenance.

"EWEB's transmission and distribution system sometimes is referred to as overbuilt – but that's simply not true!" said Tyler Nice, EWEB electric operations manager. “When one part fails, we can lean on another part of the system. This is redundancy, not waste. And redundancy makes us more resilient to both small problems and major disasters.”

Learn more about EWEB's "Resilient Spine" of substations

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