Evansville utility gets OK for $690,000 electrical system upgrade

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Kevin Murphy/Special to The Gazette
April 23, 2014

MADISON--Evansville Water & Light utility has received state approval to build a three-mile power line east of the city and replace a transformer, both part of a five-year system upgrade.

“We're looping our system to increase reliability and be able to get the power back on sooner,” said Mark Sendelbach, utility superintendent.

The project was approved Friday by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The new 2.7 mile power line will be routed through the city's far east side and the town of Union. The line capacity will be increased to 12.47 kilovolts to serve existing subdivisions and land that could be developed.

The northeast infill area is expected to boost the city's population to 8,200 within 20 years, according to state Department of Administration projections cited by project consultants Forester Electrical Engineering.

The line will extend from County M southeast along North Territorial Road, west along Highway 14 and south along Weary Road to the railroad corridor. The line is routed along existing utility and highway rights of way.

The 12.47 kilovolt line will be strung from 40-foot wooden poles. About 1,700 feet of existing line along Weary Road will be replaced with the larger capacity line, and about 2,300 feet of new corridor will be required to complete the segment.

About 1,400 feet of line in the Highway 14 corridor will be rebuilt. In the North Territorial Road segment, 7,900 feet of line will be rebuilt and 1,000 feet of new corridor will be needed to complete the project, according the PSC order.

The line eventually will loop linking substations on South Union Street and Marsh Road.

“It helps make the system more reliable to be able to get power (to the downtown substation) from two directions. You can't prevent all outages, but you can build the system so you can respond quicker to them,” Sendelbach said.

A 35-year-old transformer at the South Union Street substation will be replaced. Tests indicated a risk of it failing, which would constrain the city's power grid for months, he said.

The transformer will be installed by the end of the year, and the power line will be constructed in segments over five years.

The city plans to pay for the $690,000 project with cash on hand and short-term borrowing, according to the rate order.  The project's cost is less than 10 percent of the utility's annual revenue and will not require a rate increase, Sendelbach said.

Other parts of a five-year plan yet to be approved include:

-- 2015: Installing automated meters system wide.

-- 2016: Constructing power line from County M north of the city west to Highway 14.

-- 2017: Extending power line north of the city from Highway 14 to Territorial Road.

Cost estimates for the five-year plan were not immediately available, but Sendelbach said the projects should not require a rate increase.

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