Plymouth Utilities taking right steps to keep power on

ECONOMIC

GROWTH IN PLYMOUTH and the western part of the county can be measured in many different ways.

One of those measures came last week when the Plymouth City Council endorsed a plan to upgrade Plymouth Utilities’ electrical distribution system.

The plan, to upgrade three of the utilities’ four electric substations, came out of a study of the electrical distribution system undertaken by the utilities with the help of Forster Electrical Engineering.

The study showed that, while the system is functioning well and meeting needs, it is also near its limit, especially in terms of backups for possible failures or needed repairs.

Plymouth Utilities serves a much wider area than just the city or town of Plymouth and several of its largest industrial customers lie outside the city.

Chief among those is Johnsonville Sausage, and the plan proposed to and approved by the council addresses the key issue of ensuring a steady supply of electricity to one of the area’s largest employers, along with other major industrial customers.

Under the plan, which still must be approved by the state Public Service Commission, a second transformer would be added at substation 4 near Johnsonville, new lines would be added to substation 3 on Willow Road, and capacity would be increased at substation 2 at the wastewater treatment plant on County PP.

These upgrades, expected to cost roughly $3.8 million, would ensure that Plymouth Utilities could maintain and restore electric service not only to Johnsonville but also its thousands of residential, commercial, business and industrial customers throughout its entire service area in case of outages or repairs.

It is a good indicator of the continued strength of our local economy that the electrical distribution system that helps keep the economy humming is in need of upgrading and strengthening.

The plan must still be approved by the PSC, but it should win approval as it does not propose building new substations but instead upgrades existing facilities. That is a strong point in its favor with the PSC, which is charged with protecting and preserving the environment and ensuring the least impact on ratepayers when considering any proposals.

Plymouth Utilities also deserves credit for taking part, in the rest of its fellow public utilities that are part of WPPI, in a plan to develop a solar energy center at Point Beach in Two Rivers.

The proposed 100-megawatt solar energy center would be the largest such facility in the state when completed and could serve more than 23,000 people with affordable, clean solar energy.

That’s a positive step in the right direction towards meeting and balancing the needs for power against the need to protect and preserve the environment as well.


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