EVERETT — A safety-orange digger churned tons of dirt while construction workers laid steel-rebar cages at a work site this past week along West Marine View Drive on Everett’s waterfront.
The workers are overhauling Snohomish County Public Utility District’s Norton Substation, which powers about half the waterfront and several hundred homes in the city’s north end.
The project includes replacing a 1960s transformer and sinking rebar 40 feet underground to strengthen the site against earthquakes. The work should be finished by the year’s end, PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.
The utility plans to spend $49 million this year rebuilding substations, replacing power poles and taking other steps to keep the power flowing to area homes and businesses. The goal is to improve service and meet future demand, which is expected to grow.
Substations serving Everett, Lynnwood and Smokey Point, and a water filtration plant near Sultan also are being refurbished or upgraded. The utility, which serves more than 330,000 customers, expects to automate nearly 95 percent of its substations by the year’s end. The PUD provides water to nearly 20,000 customers.
One of the substation projects is in Everett’s Beverly Park neighborhood.
“The capacity need in that area is growing and they want to be able to meet capacity and increase reliability,” said Aaron Swaney, a PUD spokesman.
The substation will be upgraded and remodeled over the next two years and eventually include a large transformer with new technology.
“It will be the District’s first 230-kV (kilovolt) transformer and is a joint project with the Bonneville Power Administration to bolster transmission reliability,” Swaney said.
After consulting with Everett police, the PUD also has been clearing bush and brambles near the substation. It’s part of a crime prevention through landscape design effort. PUD workers found five homeless camps encroaching on the utility’s right of way.
“This is all about safety,” Swaney said.
The PUD also is replacing about 700 power poles this year. Another 25,000 will be treated to extend their life and inspected for wear and tear. The PUD maintains more than 110,000 power poles in its service area, which covers Snohomish County and Camano Island.
The utility plans to replace 30 to 40 miles of underground cable, as well.
Much of the work is expected to be completed this year. Some of the work is part of projects that will stretch over the next few years, Neroutsos said.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dcatchpole.