Culpeper electric upgrades to increase reliability

The Town of Culpeper’s Light and Power Department has embarked on several projects designed to increase reliability of the electric service provided to its 4,800 residential and commercial customers.
Next week, crews will begin constructing a sixth electrical combination overhead and underground circuit to better serve the Lakeview subdivision and areas west to Yowell Elementary School.

Plans call for an underground high-voltage distribution line to start at the town’s electric substation along East Chandler Street at Electric Avenue. Crews will bore the underground cable along Yancey Street to Spencer Street, where the three-phase 12,470-volt line will go overhead on 27 new 55-foot poles.
Town Light and Power Director Mike Stover said the new taller poles will replace the shorter 45-foot poles currently in place along Spencer Street. Some of those current poles are embedded in the sidewalk. Once the new poles are in place, new electric wire strung, transformers relocated and telephone and cable television wires moved to the new poles, the old poles will be removed and the sidewalks repaired.

Stover said the 90-day project costing about $500,000 – about $190,000 of that is materials – will prevent a system overload during high electricity demand.
About 6,000 feet of new electrical wire will be buried or strung overhead to complete the new circuit.

“This new electrical circuit should provide even more reliable electric service to our customers,” said Stover. “This way we don’t have to worry about the system overloading.”

Near the intersection of Spencer and West streets, plans call for the power line to go underground, through Yowell Meadow Park to a point at the rear of the park where existing overhead wiring to Lakeview begins.

“System reliability is key,” said Stover.

In addition to the new high-voltage circuit, the town recently began installing and energizing a new $800,000 transformer at the substation. Having a third transformer allows maintenance, without service interruption, to be performed on the two 1992-era transformers that currently serve the town.

“Transformers properly maintained should last about 50 years,” said Stover.

In anticipation of that third future transformer, the concrete pad to hold it in the fenced-in yard is already in place.
Finally, to meet federal and state emission mandate requirements, the Light and Power Department recently installed catalytic converters on its four electrical generators. The $190,000 project began in March 2012. Town officials await final testing before earning emission certifications from the EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.