Community Engagement

KUA begins work on $20 million substation

Kissimmee Utility Authority, a public power utility in Florida, has begun construction on an electrical substation that will be the largest in its service area when completed.

The $20 million substation is expected to be in operation in the second quarter of 2019. The substation is needed because a high-tech industrial park and two massive housing developments are being built in the area, KUA spokesman Chris Gent said.

In anticipation of that growth, KUA began planning for the substation and purchased the land for it more than a decade ago. KUA’s planning process showed that with the addition of the Kindred and Tohoqua residential developments additional electric capacity would be needed in the area beginning in 2019. When NeoCity, the high-tech industrial park, was announced, it further solidified the need for additional capacity in that area given the type of electric loads that are expected to reside there, Gent said.

The plan calls for a 69-kV (transmission voltage), 13.2-kV (distribution voltage) substation that will have an initial station capacity of 120 MVA and will be expandable up to 160 MVA and could accommodate future 230-kV transmission.

The original parcel of land for the substation was swapped recently for a parcel owned by Osceola County located inside NeoCity. The new location allows KUA to directly serve the anticipated facilities and load within NeoCity, while meeting the residential growth nearby, Gent said.

NeoCity is a 500-acre technology district being developed by Osceola County that is designed as a global center for smart sensor, photonics and nano-technology research and development.

KUA is an economic development partner with the county on the project, Gent said. The county financed the main laboratory at NeoCity. The water authority contributed infrastructure, and KUA covered $1 million in line extension fees for the project, Gent said.

The idea is that the county builds the lab and tech start-ups will set up shop adjacent to the lab to have access to its expensive test equipment.

It is one of the largest economic development projects in the county’s history, Gent said. “You need someone to light the spark to get the fire going,” he said. A study completed for the Orlando Economic Partnership says the facility could establish a tech cluster that could attract 20,000 high-wage jobs and $482 million in tax revenue in its first 10 years in Florida.

Site preparation for the substation will involve trucking in more than 2,600 loads of fill dirt to raise the elevation of the site. Drainage work will follow in September and construction is scheduled to begin in the fall. Construction of the substation was awarded to Kissimmee-based Terry’s Electric Inc.

The substation was named for Domingo Toro, the utility’s first Hispanic board member, who served from 1997 until 2007 in a variety of roles, including director, assistant secretary, secretary and vice-chairman.