Once Gray Construction of Lexington, Ky., completes the 400,000-square-foot distribution center on the same site, both massive facilities will be fed by the new substation whose completion was delayed — but not stopped — by the late-April tornadoes, a wetlands mitigation issue and wet weather in the late summer and fall.
In spite of the obstacles, the substation was constructed — from start to its power-up mode — in about a year which is now a benchmark for Cleveland Utilities construction, according to Tom Wheeler, CU general manager, and Bart Borden, newly named manager of the CU Electric Division.
Earlier this month, Borden succeeded the retiring Dennis Daniel, a 39-year utilities employee. Borden has served CU for 30 years.
“The new [Whirlpool] plant is now being served by this new substation,” Borden said. “Our engineering and operations crews have done an outstanding job to design and build a state-of-the-art substation. We incorporated some of the latest relaying and control technology available.”
Borden said the substation’s construction was a total team effort from day one. He and Wheeler pointed out substations of this complexity normally require two years for construction.
“I would like to personally thank our personnel for their dedication and hard work on this project,” Borden stressed during a recent gathering of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. “There are very few utilities in the Tennessee Valley service area designing and constructing substations like we are.”
Handling the design and physical development in-house using CU crews “... is a an expense savings for Cleveland Utilities and our customers,” Borden said.
In a prior interview during his final days as Electric Division head, Daniel agreed with Borden’s later assessment and pointed out that CU is probably one of only two remaining public utilities in Tennessee that continues to design and build its own substations. Most public utilities now use paid contractors for the complicated projects.
Wheeler said the Chatata Creek Substation sets a new benchmark for CU.
In the short- and long-term future, the new substation will not only service the Whirlpool plant and warehouse, but also an array of industrial and other customers along Benton Pike and U.S. Highway 64. The substation had been considered as a viable need for several years; however, its timetable was moved up when Cleveland Utilities learned of the Whirlpool plant project.
In other Electric Division news:
n CU and contractor crews have now installed 19,244 Automated Meter Reading devices, representing 65 percent of the total 26,629 electric meters on CU’s current grid. The project will continue until all electric customers are being serviced by the AMR units. The AMRs will eliminate the need for manual meter reading while also providing an accurate and timely means for billing once the new TVA time-of-use electric rates take effect for retail customers. The AMRs, also known in slang as SmartMeters, will likewise provide improved communications between Cleveland Utilities and its customers, especially during emergency situations and power outages.
n Work is now under way by CU crews to install a temporary traffic signal at the intersection formed by Benton Pike and Durkee Road. The signal, which is being paid for by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will eventually be replaced by a permanent unit. It is being placed to assist with traffic flow once the new Whirlpool plant begins operation.
n CU engineers are working with NABCO Electric to develop the signal timing for three intersections due to the ongoing Dalton Pike and McGrady Drive TDOT road project. The initiative will get complicated because of the proximity of Young Road to the project.
According to Borden, “The Young Road traffic signal will be a newly constructed intersection and will be very close to the existing APD 40 and McGrady Drive intersection. This will pose some challenges in coordinating the two intersections.”
Borden quoted Wheeler in explaining the intricacies of the endeavor.
“As [Tom] Wheeler has stated, someone’s green light is someone else’s red light,” Borden said. “The coordination plan will consider the very small storage area off APD 40 onto McGrady Drive to the new Young Road signal.”
n The Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) Phase II right of way plans have been provided by TDOT to Cleveland Utilities for review. Borden reported the project has been moved up to a fast-track status. TDOT will bid the project Jan. 18. Phase II is bounded by Interstate 75 Exit 20 to Blackburn Road and involves two traffic lights at Exit 20, one at Westland Drive and APD 40, one at Industrial Drive and APD 40, and connects them via fiber optics to the end of Phase I ITS at Blackburn Road and APD 40.