Athens leaders take first step in building new substation to handle future power demand

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s a symptom of economic development — more people moving into north Alabama and using more power.

This week, the Athens City Council took a big, expensive step in making sure there’s enough power to go around.

During this rainy week in north Alabama, people may be thinking about their power.  Inclement weather is often the harbinger of power problems for people, especially in East Limestone.

But there’s an empty field that has been designated to be a site of relief.

“Time to do it,” said Gary Scroggins, Athens Utilities General Manager.  “We’ve reached the point to where we need another station there.”

Scroggins said what is necessary is a new substation. City leaders just approved spending $750,000 on a new transformer.

“It will add the capacity that we need for all the new subdivisions that are being built constantly in that area,” said Scroggins.

He explained it will serve some 10,000 customers surrounding Highway 72 and along County Line Road and ease the burden on the entire grid.

Scroggins said the new substation would have helped in a situation over the weekend when a circuit at a substation went out.  6000 people were without power for about an hour and a half.

“We could have gotten them back on a lot quicker and probably a lot of them would not have gone off to start with,” said Scroggins.

And with 43,000 customers now and many more expected to come, Scroggins insisted it’s necessary to be ready for the new demands.

He said construction will begin in the spring and will take a year for the substation to be completed.  The total price tag for the property and equipment will be about three million dollars.