United Illuminating fortifies substations against flooding

The United Illuminating Co. (UI) expects to spend approximately $11 million on measures to protect electrical substation equipment from rising waters and flooding based on the coastal nature of its service territory.

The utility, the electric unit of UIL Holdings Corp., said anti-flood measures are already underway at substations where rising water has been a problem in the past. Substations identified are in New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Measures include installing flood barriers, pumping systems, security cameras, water level sensors and backup generators at substation yards. These steps will protect customers against long-lasting power outages, according to UI.

Electrical substations serve as the link between long-distance high voltage transmission lines, and the lower-voltage distribution system that serves individual homes and businesses. Three New Haven substations (East Shore, Grand Avenue and Mill River) and four Bridgeport-area substations (Ash Creek, Congress, Pequonnock and Singer) were identified as at-risk of flooding.

August 28 will mark the two-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene’s arrival in Connecticut. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, UI briefly had to shut down two Bridgeport substations to prevent flooding damage that could have caused long-term customer outages. In all, UI restored a cumulative total of 210,000 customer outages in the days after the storm.

Just over a year later, on Oct. 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck Connecticut. This time, the encroaching storm surge forced UI temporarily to take three Bridgeport substations offline to prevent more serious damage. In all, UI restored a cumulative total of 280,000 customer outages following Sandy.

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