A roughly $38-million plan for a new United Illuminating substation in Shelton has been proposed by the power company, and construction could start in July if the proposal receives state approval.
The Connecticut Siting Council has scheduled public hearings on the application this Thursday, Jan. 17, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Shelton City Hall.
The substation would take up roughly two acres of a six-acre site at 14 Old Stratford Road.
“This is really a reliability project, improving our infrastructure, improving reliability and meeting our growing demand in the Shelton area,” UI spokesperson Edward Crowder said.
The six-acre parcel is former industrial land, now owned by UI and vacant.
The substation would serve what UI calls the “greater Shelton area” of Shelton, Trumbull, Derby, Ansonia, and parts of Stratford and Orange. The new substation would supplement four existing substations in Derby, Ansonia, Trumbull, and the Trap Fall substation in Shelton.
According to UI’s capacity study, the four substations will not have adequate capacity to reliably serve customers by 2015.
“This proposed substation will provide both a new interconnection to the existing 115 kv (kilovolt) electric transmission grid and a new location at which the high-voltage power from the transmission system will be ‘stepped down’ (i.e., the voltage will be decreased and current increased) for distribution to residential, commercial and industrial customers,” according to the application given to the state.
Crowder said that if a big storm hit and a transformer at a nearby substation went out, the new substation would absorb some of that capacity.
“That’s why it helps improve reliability,” Crowder said. “It creates increased capacity during storms and times of peak usage — it allows some flexibility.”
UI investigated the viability of adding to existing substations but found that to be a short-term and costly solution, according to the application.
The six-acre property has Route 8 to the east, Pootatuck Place on its western side, and to the north, Far Mill River. Until the 1990s it was used by the Lord Corp. for the manufacture of O-rings and seals, according to UI.
Access to the substation would be from an existing access road that currently extends into property from Pootatuck Place.
The substation would be reusing a portion of the former industrial site.
“The project will modify on-site vegetation and wildlife habitat, as well as views of the site,” according to the application. “In addition, the development of the substation will require unavoidable filling of a small (0.17-acre) wetland located on the southwestern portion of the site.”
UI said it would work with federal and state regulatory authorities to attain the proper permit and to minimize or mitigate environmental effects.
“The purpose of the hearing is to hear evidence on the applicant’s contentions that the public need for the facility outweighs any adverse environmental effects that would result from the construction, operation, or maintenance of the substation,” according to the Connecticut Siting Council. “The 3 p.m. hearing session will provide the applicant, parties, and intervenors an opportunity to cross-examine positions. The 7 p.m. hearing session will be reserved for the public to make brief statements into the record. Cross-examination of parties and intervenors will resume, if necessary, after all statements have been heard.”
If the project moves forward this summer the estimated completion date is December 2014.
Crowder said UI worked with local officials and kept them in the loop about the plan. The city backs the proposal, according to the application.
The hearings will be held in the Shelton City Hall auditorium, 54 Hill Street. More information on the plan and application can also be found at ct.gov/csc and searching “pernding proceedings.”