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Land is cleared just off Highway 218 north of Austin for a new electrical transformer.

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Austin getting another substation

Published 11:36am Friday, November 9, 2012

Anyone driving on Highway 218 north of Austin probably noticed a large area of land under construction. That area is part of Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s efforts to make the Austin area’s electrical grid more reliable.

Richard Hettwer, manager of power delivery at SMMPA, said the power supplier is adding an electrical substation with one transformer there, which will give Austin three total transformers — including the two at the existing substation northeast of Austin — when it’s complete in November 2013. Hettwer said the additional substation will give the system more reliability and allow for load growth as the population increases.

Hettwer cited the tornado that hit Austin in June 2009, which left part of the city without power for awhile, as a good reason for a new transformer.

“With two transformers, if we lose one, we’re at our limit,” he said. “It adds redundancy and allows for load growth.”

He said they don’t plan to close the highway during construction.


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  • netmanca

    Austin used to have very reliable power until it made they ill advised decision to Join SMMPA in the 80′s. The reason for power outages is Austin no longer generates its own power. Both power plants have been taken out of service and now it imports all it power via High Voltage lines. Any storm or line failure puts the lights out. The city is no longer a self supporting Island but is dependent on others.

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