Work on $3.6 million power substation nears completion

Robert Houk • May 29, 2018 at 8:32 PM

A $3.6 million power substation to serve  a growing area between Johnson City and Jonesborough is expected to be completed by the end of June. Mark Eades, chief engineering and technology officer for BrightRidge, told the public utility’s board of directors Tuesday the Midway substation could be online by the start of the new fiscal year.

“We hope to have the substation completely wired by the end of June and operational by the first week of July,” he said.

Construction on the Midway project began late last year. The substation is being constructed on 14 acres east of downtown Jonesborough and near Norfolk Southern’s railroad tracks. 

Eades told BrightRidge board members the Midway substation would help met the needs of a fast-growing area of Washington County, while reducing the strain on another station that currently powers the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home, East Tennessee State University and Johnson City Medical Center.

He also said the new facility would allow BrightRidge to transfer load from other substations in need of repair.

“It gives us more flexibility to move that load to other locations,” he said. 

The Midway substation is just one of several projects BrightRidge officials say have helped the public utility win recognition from the American Public Power Association as a RP3 platinum-level reliable power provider. BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes told board members the award is “not an easy designation to earn.” Of the more than 2,000 local power utilities eligible for the distinction, only 252 have achieved platinum.

BrightRidge is one of 21 such public utilities located in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s service area.

“This is a highly prestigious thing,” Dykes said the RP3 award. “The goal now is for us to maintain the status.”

BrightRidge received a score of 96.5 out 100 from the accrediting body for reliability, cyber security and workforce safety.

In another matter, Dykes said the state comptroller’s office is still reviewing BrightRidge’s plan for getting into the broadband business. Dykes said officials wanted a few additional questions answered on one component of the business plan. The CEO said he was confident the state would soon OK the plan for BrightRidge so that he could take the proposal to the Johnson City Commission in June.

That plan would allow BrightRidge to offer cable services, two-way video transmissions, video programming and internet services to many of its 78,000 power customers.

Once the business plan is approved by the state, city commissioners must sign off on BrightRidge’s broadband ambitions.

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