To meet the rising energy needs of the 22,000 Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers in Redmond and North Bellevue who depend on safe and reliable electric service, PSE recently completed the new Ardmore substation in Redmond. The new substation, which will begin energizing homes, businesses and schools as early as mid June, is a pinnacle example of PSE’s work to involve the community and to incorporate the latest technology in its design.
Knowing that many individuals and groups would be affected by the new substation, PSE worked hard at the outset to involve the community in all stages of planning. Many details were considered, including supporting the cities’ long range vision for residential and commercial urban village development and the construction of the light rail line that will be expanding to serve the area.
A site was eventually selected in the Overlake district in southwest Redmond that would best meet the interests of the community and accommodate the reliability and operational features of the new substation. Land was at a premium and available sites were small. PSE’s traditional substation footprint was too large to fit on available properties so several technology and design innovations were incorporated to save space without sacrificing reliability.
PSE depended on the expertise and collaboration of more than 165 employees from multiple departments, more than 20 partnering companies, and several consultants and contractors to make this substation a reality.
“With a tight time line, it’s always a challenge to get so many entities to work together,” says Scott Tongue, the project’s substation foreman, “but it was a fun project for the substation department getting to work with new technology and equipment and we did what we were best at, building substations.”
The soon-to-be-completed 50-MVA capacity substation will initially serve about 22,000 customers and can be expanded to serve 160 MVA of load (enough for about 60,000 -70,000 customers). It integrates the latest technology and innovative design. Some highlights include:
- Three times the capacity at half the size. The substation uses gas insulated switchgear (GIS) technology to achieve a very small footprint without sacrificing capacity or reliability. The GIS is more than 80 percent smaller than similarly constructed traditional “open air” bus work.
- Designed with the future in mind. The Ardmore substation is smart grid-enabled for the future and incorporates another step forward with its distribution automation. If a piece of equipment fails, the substation can automatically reroute power to restore service to the affected customers. This is a first for PSE and another example of what a collaborative design team can accomplish.
- Efficient technology. Ardmore substation is the first installation of “Flat SCADA” (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) architecture at PSE. This design eliminates multiple database configurations, redundant devices, a lot of redundant wiring and reduces database errors. It also allows for remote HMI (Human Machine Interface) access. Viewing the HMI remotely allows personnel to view and analyze substation status, alarms, and operations before sending workers to the site.
- Community-driven design. Ardmore includes multiple artistic design features, the result of collaboration with the jurisdiction and community. The theme of “energy and motion” is seen throughout its design, from the landscaping, architectural fences and walls to the artistic landmark transmission pole in the front of the station. The green mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining wall replaces more traditional concrete walls; more than 11,000 plants that have been planted into soil filled bags will grow together to form a strong vegetation mesh and earth retaining wall around the front of the substation.
“The Ardmore substation represents a marvelous example of collaboration, teamwork, and innovation,” says Booga Gilbertson, vice president, Operations Services. “As our teams continue working to improve the reliability of the energy we supply to our customers, we will keep challenging ourselves to be even more resourceful and inclusive.”