Extreme makeover – substation edition

By Shelby Doherty

Extreme5Sometimes new is better, even when it means completely replacing an existing facility that serves many customers. That’s exactly what is happening with the Tewksbury 22A Gas Insulated Substation located in the Merrimack Valley area of Massachusetts.

The existing substation was built in the 1970s and serves customers in cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts. Two 345 kilovolt lines come into the station, bringing power from generating stations; four other transmission lines deliver power from the substation to other facilities in the area.

The existing substation is part of the first generation of gas-insulated substations, which were built completely outdoors. This left them exposed to the New England weather, which as we all know sometimes features extreme cold and heat, along with ice and biting winds.

Temperature does not typically affect regular open-air substations; however, it can be an issue for gas insulated stations and can lead to significant wear and tear on these facilities, especially the gas-insulated equipment.

Since the first generation of gas insulated substations were built, the technology has advanced so the gas-insulated components can now be completely enclosed within a temperature-controlled building, eliminating the exposure to bad weather and reducing potential equipment damage and degradation. So the Tewksbury 22A substation is getting a major makeover into a new, state-of-the art facility.

The new substation is being designed with our customer needs in mind by sizing the building to sufficiently house equipment to accommodate additional transmission lines that may be needed at some point in the future. A fifth transmission line currently is in the siting and permitting stages and is expected to be built in the next couple of years.

“Our customers trust us to provide reliable service, and this project will enable us to continue to do just that,” said Mike Szczepanek, manager, Substation and Civil Construction in the Project Management and Complex Construction group. “The new substation will require less maintenance, operate more efficiently and will help us continue to connect customers to the power that they need.”

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