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Eugene Water and Electric Board Substation Returns to Service

In 2022, the transformer at the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s River Road substation in Oregon experienced equipment failure and was deemed no longer fit for service.

Since that time, the power for roughly 3,000 customers has been rerouted through other substations, thanks to EWEB's robust electric grid, the utility noted on Oct. 26.

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. 

EWEB recently 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, the utility said.

"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, in a statement. "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, it noted.

EWEB's 10-year Capital Improvement Plan calls for major infrastructure investments to rehabilitate, replace, and install new infrastructure.

Some of the electric infrastructure projects include:

  • Rebuilding substations to increase capacity and improve reliability
  • Investing in updated meter technology investments to reduce costs and improve service
  • Implementing wildfire safety and prevention programs
  • Transmission and distribution modernization
  • Replacing aging or end-of-life equipment
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