Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 18, 2013

Electrical grid

Bluefield upgrade a positive step

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Anytime aging infrastructure in our region can be upgraded it should be viewed as a positive. That’s why we welcome the news of a five-year, $3.3 million upgrade of the electrical grid planned for downtown Bluefield.

Crews with Appalachian Power will be launching the project next month. The first phase of construction will focus on the Raleigh Street area and will involve the replacement of several underground vaults.

An underground vault is a place where transformers and other electrical equipment is housed, according to Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye.

 “In downtown Bluefield, we have a lot of the electrical distribution system that is underground so that you don’t have poles and wires in the downtown area,” Moye told the Daily Telegraph earlier this week. “This project is to replace equipment, update our facilities and just make sure that the underground electrical supply in downtown Bluefield continues to be safe and reliable.”

Moye said Appalachian Power decided to launch the renovations following an inventory inspection of the underground electrical system in the city a few years ago. Information obtained from the inspection allowed the company to identify areas where equipment needed to be replaced or removed.

Moye says most of the work to be completed over the next five years will be focused in the downtown area. Future phases of the $3.3 million project will include Commerce, Federal, Scott and Bland streets and Bluefield Avenue.

Moye says it is unclear at this point if planned power outages will be needed to complete the five-year project. If the company reaches a point where a power outage will be necessary, all customers will be notified in advance so that they can properly prepare for a planned outage.

Moye views the investment in downtown Bluefield as a positive, and so does Bluefield City Manager Jim Ferguson. During a recent meeting of the city board of directors, Ferguson detailed a lengthy list of items that he viewed as positive developments for Bluefield, including the upgrade of the downtown electrical grid.

We, too, view the work as a positive for Bluefield, and the downtown area in particular. If downtown Bluefield is to be successfully revitalized, the electrical grid will need to be updated as well.

 As we witnessed with the powerful derecho wind storm last year, power outages in our region can be quite disruptive. And they are, unfortunately, common here in the mountains.

Anything that can be done to improve the stability and reliability of the local electrical grid is a positive step forward.