Power demands lead to substation south of The Grove

Bradly Smith, Staff Reporter


The city of Ellensburg is going to build an electrical substation, the “Helena Substation,” on Airport Road in the open pasture south of The Grove. This will provide electricity for thousands of residents.

In 2005, the concept of using the area for the substation began.

The construction will consist of a 200×240 foot electrical substation building and will be surrounded by a 16 foot concrete wall. It will also be guarded with a series of gates and outfitted with a security system.

The city is “under a critical and condensed timeline,” Richard French, light operations supervisor for the city of Ellensburg, said.

French believes his crew is on track to have the project finished by November 2015.

With only eight months left to complete the project, there is a lot that needs to be done.

“We are in the process of having the materials needed shipped into Ellensburg,” French said.

The city still needs to hire contractors for the construction labor and landscaping.

“Most of the construction will take place over the course of the summer months,” French said.

This will be less of a hassle for the students living at The Grove. Even though there will be some students staying over the summer, they won’t be too heavily impacted.

“The student’s parking will not be affected and there will be virtually no visual impact for the students at The Grove,” French said.

This will be a huge project for the city, costing over $4 million. But, French said, the money needs to be spent.

“We are approaching system capacity for the city’s power usage. We need this substation before we go into a crisis,” French said.

French said the weather also plays a key role in the necessity of the Helena Substation.

“The electrical system needs to be able to handle the potential cold and hot weather in the future,” French said.

When temperatures dip below freezing in Ellensburg, every household is using its heat. If the city is not equipped to handle this high demand, the city could be faced with a power disaster.

When all is said and done, Helena Substation is being built for the benefit of the residents of Ellensburg.

“The city really wants to provide a safe, low cost service to the users,” French said.