In the heart of the Salinas Valley, California, where so much of America’s produce is grown and processed, PG&E has been tending to its own electrical crop. For much of the last year, the company and its contractors have been adding capacity and reliability to the substation in King City. The project, soon to be completed, will set the stage for meeting increasing demands for power from new residents and agricultural customers in California’s salad bowl.
“Having reliable power means the city can expand,” said Sal Morales, King City’s maintenance superintendent. “The economy around King City and the surrounding areas is mostly agriculture,” Morales said. “Farmers needs reliable power for pumps and wells that run on electricity.”
The city plans to expand its wastewater treatment plant, Morales says, and that requires more power, too.
Peter Hypnar heads the project for PG&E contractor TRC Solutions. “Here at King City we’re upgrading the substation. We’re putting in a new transformer. That new transformer is going to give us three to four times the capacity of what the old transformer provided us with,” Hypnar said.
For eight months, PG&E used a mobile transformer to continue to supply electricity to residents and businesses during the project.
“Success to us when we have to do a project like this is to make sure the local community does not see any interruption of power,” Hypnar said.
PG&E also added SCADA (supervisory control and date acquisition) at the substation. This technology allows PG&E to respond to outages and other electrical issues remotely. In the past, the company would have to send out crews to make repairs or transfer loads if an outage occurred.
PG&E has spent $4.5 million on the project, but customers who rely on the substation which serves a large swath of southern Monterey County, will appreciate the boost in capacity and reliability. The upgrade in King City shows why PG&E customers experienced record reliability in 2013 with fewer service and shorter service disruptions.