The City of New Albany’s Light, Gas & Water department is looking to cut down on city-wide power outages by improving its grid system next year.
Bill Mattox, manager for the city’s utility department, said plans are being made to add two circuits at its Butler Avenue and Substation Road substations, as well as switches throughout the city to better isolate power outages.
“Currently, our lines are very sensitive,” Mattox said. “Most of the eastern and northern parts of the city, including the downtown area, are on one substation. If something shorts out, it builds up back to the substation. It opens up the breaker and shuts the power off.”
Mattox said at some point in time, the city’s power grid was converted to a 160 volt system, which provides more electricity, but the coverage area is much larger now.
“If we have a power outage, it can take our guys at least two hours or more sometimes to find the issue,” Mattox said. “They have to drive around the city, following the lines to find the cause.”
Mattox said his department has developed a five-year plan to solve all the issues at its six substations around the county, and the current plan is to fix Butler and Substation Road.
“The plan is to create two new circuits at Butler and Substation,” Mattox said. “The new circuit at Butler will cover most of the downtown area and will be mostly free of trees. The new circuit out of the primary substation will travel along Bankhead to the railroad tracks and run over to Baker Street as well. We will also add switches along the lines to allow for much smaller areas to find trouble spots.”
Mattox said the project will cost approximately $500,000 and the city will bid it out by the spring or early summer next year.