Arcata PG&E Substation Work Complete – May 9, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The Arcata PG&E Substation

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

SIXTH & I STREETS – Somewhere, Reddy Kilowatt is smiling.

After more than a year of intense, somewhat mysterious activity at the PG&E substation at Sixth and I streets, the trucks, workers and equipment staged at the parking lot across the street are all gone, as the site’s overhaul has been completed.

The project started more than a year ago. Preliminary work at the site was followed by a planned, city-wide power outage in March of 2010 which allowed engineers to switch out equipment and proceed with the overhaul.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, those responsible for infrastructure – government and public utility officials – have tended to speak in generalities about critical facilities, and the substation is no exception.

Physically, it appears streamlined, with the gleaming, less massive new equipment creating a lower profile on the landscape.

PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers said the equipment at the Arcata substation had reached its average life expectancy was due for replacement. She offered some specifics:

“The recent work at the Arcata Substation was part of a reliability project to replace aged equipment. In the process, the entire substation has been rebuilt. All equipment, including circuit breakers, the transformer bank and the control building have being replaced, in addition to all support structures and foundations and the perimeter fence on the traffic sides of the substation. The old transformer bank was replaced with two new transformer banks. This work was accomplished in just over a year with zero safety incidences.

“The ballpark cost is around $15 million. Additional work to be completed at the Substation includes civil work to grade out the Substation and replace portions of the sidewalk outside the Substation and removal of the old control building structure.”

Ehlers offered this Arcata substation trivia:

• Arcata Substation serves the city of Arcata, the Fickle Hill area, the Jacoby Creek area and the west side of McKinleyville.

• Approximately 11,000 customers are served by the Arcata Substation.