Danville Utilities planning to add substation at Cyber Park

Several projects, including a new electrical substation at the growing Cyber Park and an upgrade at another off Piney Forest Road in northern Danville, are included in a new capital improvement plan for Danville Utilities.

The Cyber Park substation project is estimated to be about $1.5 million and upgrades to the New Design substation in the Maplewood Avenue area off Piney Forest Road would cost about $4.5 million.

The park, which includes the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and the Regional Center for Advanced Training and Technology, is attracting more industry and that has led to a need for a substation there, said Danville Utilities Director Jason Grey.

Recently announced projects from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of Defense were two examples Grey mentioned to the Danville Register & Bee on Monday.

Also, there are “other buildings that are already there, plus there are several lots being graded for future use,” Grey said.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing program will expand by creating a regional training facility in the Cyber Park.

The building will be located next to the newly opened Center for Manufacturing Advancement and will include more than 100,000 square feet. The defense manufacturing program plans to provide 800 to 1,000 qualified candidates per year to fill critical vacancies in the defense industrial base by 2024, according to a news release from the program.

The new Center for Manufacturing Advancement is open, and the U.S. Navy is launching a manufacturing project there.

Announcements for the projects in the Cyber Park were made by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Oct. 5.

The $28.8 million, 51,250-square-foot Center for Manufacturing Advancement, a state-funded project, will provide state-of-the-art space for industry partners looking to expand and manufacturers hoping to move to a new site to the Dan River Region, according to the Institute.

Grey presented Danville Utilities’ 2024 capital improvement plan to the Danville Utility Commission during its meeting Monday afternoon.

The Cyber Park substation would include 25 megawatts — enough power to serve 2,000 to 3,000 homes — and would serve less than 100 industrial customers, Grey said.

“The Cyber Park itself will probably take up most of the substation capacity,” Grey told the Register & Bee.

Equipment will include a transformer, several transmission and distribution breakers and monitoring equipment for the transmission and distribution lines, he said.

Work on the project is expected to begin early next year and finish up by the second quarter of 2024, Grey said.

As for the New Design substation near McDonald’s on Piney Forest Road, it was built in the 1970s and serves about 4,000 residential and business customers.

“This is a substation we want to upgrade — it’s one of the last older ones that we have in our system,” Grey said.

Also, upgrades to the Westover and Southside electrical substations are due to be complete soon, with the Westover project expected to wrap up around Thanksgiving, he said.

The Southside project should be complete by the end of the year or in January, he said.

The Westover substation serves about 5,000 customers, while the Southside substation serves about 4,500 customers.

Both projects are installing new equipment including replacement of an old transformer and addition of a new one at each site, new breakers, controls and monitoring equipment.

The Westover substation serves a vast area including Dry Fork, the Berry Hill Road area and parts of Danville.

Southside covers the area from West Main Street and at Averett University in Danville, heading south in the Grove Park area, Southwyck, Druid Hills and Stratford Place to the North Carolina line.

Other substation projects in the works include a new $2.5 million Ballou substation for the Caesars Virginia casino resort in Schoolfield. That substation is expected to be complete in the fall of 2023.

Also included for fiscal year 2024 is a $10 million to $15 million wastewater project to replace the Southside pumping station that serves Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

Located at Gypsum Road, the pumping station was built in the late 1960s to serve the then-new Goodyear production plant.

The station pumps sewage across the Dan River to the city’s Northside plant, which treats the sewage.

“It’s undersized,” Grey said of the pumping station during his presentation to the commission. “Danville has grown over that 50-year period. We have some economic development property on Gypsum Road being marketed.”

The station has capacity to pump about 7.6 million gallons of wastewater per day, but officials want to expand that to 11 million gallons per day, Grey said.

Commission member Helm Dobbins asked Grey the maximum amount of debt the city could incur from the project. Grey estimated that grants would pay for about half of the project, with the remainder covered by bonds.

Other projects include about $6 million worth of work to replace cast-iron water pipes in different parts of the city. Most of the water projects Grey presented are from Danville Utilities’ 10-year master plan recommendations for its water service.

Also, the city expects to get $500,000 in grants to perform a lead audit of water lines, including those leading up to residential meters and those from the meters to homes built before 1986, Grey said.

Residents can anticipate those inspections beginning in late 2023 or thereafter, Grey said, adding that grants would pay for projects to get rid of or mitigate any lead problems.

Utility providers are required to perform the lead audit by October 2024.

Plans also include $2.6 million in natural gas projects.

In other matters, the commission voted 6-0 to approve waiving the one-time $1,500 residential water-tap fee for nonprofits including Habitat for Humanity and other charities to help local entities develop new housing for people qualifying for assistance.

Commissioner Steven Merricks was absent.

Article by John Crane | Register & Bee