By Jackie Todd, Office of University Relations
Workers will begin construction of a new electrical substation in June, which officials say will provide increased power reliability on Clemson’s main campus for the next 30 to 40 years.
The new substation, to be built within the facility operations area on the outer edge of the South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG) will replace the No. 2 substation located in the east part of the main campus. The No. 2 substation was built in the 1960s.
It’s also the substation that lost power last month when falling trees compromised Duke Energy power lines, leaving much of the main campus without electricity. The substation failure resulted in an unscheduled day off for faculty, staff and students.
“The trees fell across the ravine in the South Carolina Botanical Garden, taking out the poles and electrical lines that ran on them,” said Campus Utilities Director Tony Putnam. “Because of that, electricity could not travel along the lines properly and that knocked out substation No. 2.”
Putnam said the new substation offers a number of benefits.
It will be a 50-megawatt substation that will increase the power reliability to campus.
“The current No. 2 substation accommodates just 28 megawatts,“ said Putnam. “So the new substation will almost double the capacity that we currently have.”
Putnam said its location will enable workers to remove about a mile of poles and overhead lines that cut a swath through the Botanical Garden and other tree-laden areas of campus. That presented both visual and easement impacts. The removal of those poles will enable officials to give that land back to the garden.
That’s good news for SCBG Director Patrick McMillan.
“The removal of the aerial lines across the garden will be a long-anticipated and welcome change,” he said. “This will allow the Natural Heritage Garden to proceed continuously without the unsightly interruption and will be revegetated with attractive native vegetation. We are very excited about new opportunities it offers us to expand the visitor experience.”
The new substation also offers a number of benefits to surrounding areas of the main campus.
Duke Energy will rebuild power lines that feed into the new substation. The lines will be carried on new poles that are higher and better protected than the current poles.
“Even lines coming in from Central — that whole stretch of poles will be much higher and more protected,” said Putnam. “All in all, there will be about four miles of new poles.”
Newer and higher poles mean that workers can reduce the number of poles, because they will be spaced out at a greater distance. For those neighbors who have power poles in their backyards, fewer poles mean better backyard views.
“And that’s a win-win for everyone,” said Putnam.
Officials said the new substation is part of a $75 million campus electrical infrastructure upgrade, a critical component of Clemson’s comprehensive facility plan.