Powering Strong Communities

Eugene Water & Electric Board Plans to Rebuild 10 Substations in Next Decade

The Eugene Water & Electric Board is ramping up to rebuild 10 substations in the next decade and the rebuild effort has begun with the Currin Substation.  

Crews are currently demolishing the 60-year-old substation. After demolition is complete, workers will build the substation’s new foundations, then install new infrastructure that goes below ground level. Crews will then install new electrical equipment, most likely in mid to late summer.

Currin functions as the “Grand Central Station” of EWEB’s electrical grid. Power from multiple long-distance transmission lines, including from the Bonneville Power Administration’s lines and PacifiCorp’s transmission lines, flows through the substation, the public power utility noted.

It also serves as a connection hub to EWEB’s Hayden Bridge Water Treatment Plant, customers in the McKenzie River Valley and Eugene’s downtown electrical network. Because of these critical interconnections, EWEB chose to replace Currin first among the 10 planned substation rebuilds.

Most of EWEB’s substations were built during the 1970s, when the population of Eugene was rapidly growing. Despite the age of some of EWEB’s equipment, the power EWEB supplies is 99.97% reliable, based on 2022 metrics for outage occurrences and length of outages. That level of electric reliability requires consistent investment and maintenance in the whole grid, the utility noted.

The rebuilt Currin substation will contribute to improved future reliability by minimizing the frequency of outages resulting from equipment failure or routine maintenance.

The substation’s new design also meets modern earthquake standards for infrastructure to better withstand the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. The foundations will be larger and deeper so that equipment mounted on top of them won’t overturn or slide during an earthquake.

The $14.8 million project is scheduled to finish in spring 2024. Another nine substations will follow in the next decade, as outlined in EWEB’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan for major infrastructure investments to rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure. EWEB forecasts that rebuilding the 10 substations will cost about $125 million.

The Capital Improvement Plan is based on asset management, data, and risk-based decisions, and prioritizes projects into three main categories: risk-based, compulsory, and strategic. These categories will help guide the electric division’s work over the next 10 years, the utility said.