National Grid is in the Final Stages of Substation Upgrade

-By Joseph Domelowicz

For the Transcript

A major substation upgrade and enhancement project in Winthrop, being undertaken by National Grid is in the final stages, and will result in a more stable and reliable power grid within the town when it is completed.

According to Public Works Director Dave Hickey and representatives of National Grid and their subcontractor on the project, Energy Initiatives Group, the project which began in October 2009, is actually both a station upgrade and a substation connection project designed to tie an enhanced Argyle Street substation to the existing Metcalf Square substation (adjacent to the Winthrop Library on Winthrop Street), as a way of providing system backup for the portions of the town that are primarily served by the Metcalf Square station.

“Anybody who’s been around town for a while knows that we’ve had service problems related to the Metcalf Square substation on occasion over the years,” explained Hickey. “Some of the service interruptions have lasted for several days, but for a variety of reasons, National Grid is not able to make the types of upgrades at the Metcalf Square station that would solve those problems long-term.”

So instead of focusing on the Metcalf Square issues as an isolated part of the local power grid, National Grid decided to support the Metcalf Square station by tying it to the Argyle Street station and enhancing that station.

“The project is really a three phased project, that involved installing new equipment at the Argyle Street substation to transfer existing power supply lines coming into town to a (new, enhanced substation) building,” explained Greg Klaban of Energy Initiatives. “That work is essentially done.”

Phases 2 and 3 of the project  will call for the new equipment and distribution lines to connect the two substations.

Hickey explained that portion of the new distribution, or connection lines, between the two substations were installed on existing utility poles last summer and fall. However, a final leg of the distribution line will pass underground, beneath town owned property at the Winthrop Housing Authority, and that is one portion of the work that is being done now.

Jason Smalls of National Grid said that the underground work currently underway is expected to be completed around the end of January to mid-February, with all work on the project expected to be done by mid-April.

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