More than a year after Tropical Storm Irene rerouted the Mohawk River through National Grid’s substation at Lock 10, 2,000 area costumers are still powered by a temporary substation on wheels. But that’s about to change.
National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella confirmed Tuesday that the utility is in the process of buying four acres of land adjacent to the temporary station from the Target Distribution Center along Route 5S in the town of Florida for a permanent substation.
“It’s basically a substation on a trailer,” he said of the temporary unit brought in to restore power after the Mohawk River left its banks and ruined the previous facility.
Stella recounted being at the scene of the flooded substation in September 2011 when a 70-foot transmission tower crashed into the river.
“The water eroded the foundation,” he said. “It was a tense couple of days.”
National Grid workers built a dirt peninsula into the river so backhoes could reach the fallen tower. The power lines were lifted back into place by helicopters.
Thanks to the temporary station, actually restoring power was a slightly easier fix, but it was never meant to be a long-term solution.
Stella said the movable unit, which has worked from a parking spot near the Target Distribution Center for 16 months, has the same electrical capacity as a permanent station, but lacks the redundant systems that allow power to be restored quickly during outages.
It’s those systems, he said, that will be built on the four acres starting this spring.
The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency had to approve the land sale since Target is enrolled in a payment in lieu of taxes agreement. IDA Executive Director Ken Rose said allowing the transaction was a no-brainer. “It’s going to benefit the whole corridor,” he said.
The Florida Industrial Park is currently home to Beech-Nut, Target, Alpin Haus and Hill and Markes. Rose is charged with attracting more industry to the area. With a permanent substation, he said, the industrial park will be more attractive to companies with big power needs.
“Power is one of the first things they ask about,” he said. “Then it’s water and sewer, and we’re set in those departments.”
Since Irene, Rose has heard some complaints about outages in the area, but said the new station will not only be more reliable than the current setup, but also will have a larger power capacity than the original.
“We’ll be able to look at manufacturing rather than just distribution,” he said. “If there was a silver lining to the flood, this is it.”