PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

With eye on growing county, PUD replaces aging Marysville substation

The $8.4 million project north of Jennings Park is expected to be finished in October. It’s one part of a 10-year PUD plan.

MARYSVILLE — Amid rapid growth in Marysville and the rest of the county, the Snohomish County Public Utility District is looking to replace substations.

The Central Marysville Substation will be demolished in 2025 after a run of about 40 years. To replace it, the PUD is building a new substation about a mile northwest of its namesake, Jennings Park, and a stone’s throw from the old one. It will not only serve Marysville, but future residential, commercial and industrial growth north of the city.

About 70,000 people call Marysville home, with that number expected to rise to 90,000 by 2035.

The $8.4 million project is expected to be finished in October. It’s part of a 10-year PUD plan to increase power reliability across the county.

The old substation, off 80th Street NE, is “really reaching the end of its life,” said Deon LaPierre, a PUD electrical engineer.

Older substations require more maintenance and have more parts. Tap changers, which help regulate voltage, are also contained in a vacuum at newer substations. The vacuum-contained tap changers are more reliable, according to the PUD, and don’t require as much maintenance.

With the exception of contractors helping with underground work, utility employees have built most of the substation. This cuts costs and gives employees experience building them, PUD spokesperson Aaron Swaney said.

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

The PUD is also installing 14 new poles to help with power transmission once the substation is online. The substation sits on about an acre, and has two major components — gargantuan breakers in a building and a large transformer in the middle of the lot.

Occasionally, the breakers need to be replaced. The design of new substations makes replacement safer through a process called remote racking, meaning breakers can be loaded and unloaded into their ports remotely.

Changing breakers can be dangerous and PUD employees welcome any change done for safety.

“If it does blow up, it just goes out the doors and none of us get injured during that,” said George Saad, a substation foreman.

The new transformer at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

The new transformer at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Like other substations, the transformer sits on a pad of cement and gravel fills the yard. Thousands of feet of wires lay underneath the rock. The PUD monitors the sensors on the transformers remotely.

PUD employee Kyle Tucker has done much of the wiring himself, outside of what already came done out of the factory.

“The diversity of knowledge here is massive,” Tucker said. “It’s a group effort.”

The transformer is a pressurized container cooled by oil. Its cement bowl is designed to capture any oil that leaks from it.

The substation site also is set up for future use. Once built, four “feeders” will distribute power out of the facility, with room for a fifth that can be added when local growth necessitates it.

Much of the project also builds redundancy into the system.

“Transmission will ‘loop-through’ the substation through two lines, allowing our system operators more options in switching power around and helping keep more customers in power in the case of an outage on one of the lines,” Swaney wrote in an email.

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Also on the PUD’s upgrade list: the Camano Substation, Lake Goodwin Substation, Stimson Crossing Switching Station, Clearview Substation, Thrasher’s Corner Substation and Picnic Point Substation. The utility also is building two other new substations, in the Getchell and Smokey Point areas.

All of those projects are expected to be completed by 2027.

“We have to make sure that we’re looking out 10, 15, 20 years to make sure that we have the infrastructure that can meet that demand that we know is coming,” Swaney said.

Jordan Hansen: 425-339-3046; jordan.hansen@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jordyhansen.

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