Spokane Journal of Business

Avista plans $15 million new substation

Company to replace some 1950s-era equipment

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Spokane-based utility provider Avista Corp. is planning a nearly $15 million substation relocation and upgrade at its Sunset site as part of its ongoing investment in infrastructure, says Josh DeLuciano, director of engineering. 

Located just off State Highway 195, about three miles north of the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course, the Sunset substation is a regional transmitter that directly serves Avista customers on Spokane’s South Hill and West Plains. 

DeLuciano says a lot of the equipment at the location was made in the 1950s. Because of the age of the equipment, replacement parts are difficult to procure, which is problematic should something happen at the substation that would impact service to customers. 

“It’s not a good place to be,” he says. 

He also notes that a lot has changed in the last 70 years with regards to environmentally friendly standards that the older equipment doesn’t meet, but the new equipment can meet such standards. He adds that changing out the system to something newer is safer as well. 

The upgraded substation will be built immediately south of the existing substation on a 4-acre parcel of vacant land Avista owns. The company plans to contract out the work, DeLuciano says, who adds that Avista will often use multiple contractors on its projects. 

“This station, we’re doing contract design and contract construction for a majority of the work,” he says, noting that the company has not selected a contractor for the project yet. 

The project is currently in the design phase, says DeLuciano. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2020 and be completed around mid-summer of 2021. 

Once construction is finished, the load will be transferred to the new substation and the existing one will be disassembled. 

About 11,500 customers are served by the Sunset substation, says a company representative.

Avista serves more than 600,000 electric and natural gas customers across Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and eastern Oregon.

Natasha Nellis
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Reporter Natasha Nellis joined the Journal in May 2018 and covers real estate and construction. Natasha is an avid reader and loves taking photos, traveling, and learning new languages.

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