City electric rates stable for now; upgrades needed

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FRANKLIN—Franklin Power & Light Director Michael Stoneham is recommending that electric rates remain stable for the current fiscal year, but he also notes the need for system upgrades in the future.

“The city’s at a point where we need to upgrade the service; in other words, we need to get more capacity from Dominion,” he said.

The city receives its electricity from Dominion Virginia Power at three different delivery stations. No. 1 is on South Street near U.S. Route 58, No. 2 is at the intersection of Fifth and Mechanic streets and No. 3 is off Delaware Road.

“We take power at those locations and then distribute it throughout the city,” Stoneham said.

He plans to begin discussions with Dominion to increase the city’s electric capacity for the future.

“When you couple that with what I consider to be the condition of Delivery 1, it makes sense to sit down and talk to Dominion about overall upgrades to our system,” Stoneham said.

Delivery No. 1, he said, is an antiquated facility. Dominion has also indicated that a transformer failure serving either Delivery No. 1 or No. 2 could result in a loss of power to the affected delivery point for up to 24 hours.

While some customers could be temporarily transferred to another delivery station, capacity issues mean some could not be transferred.

Changing the way the city receives its electricity from Dominion—at a transmission voltage level rather than the current distribution voltage level—could yield a significant savings, Stoneham said.

“Perhaps that savings could offset the cost of building a better facility,” he said. In the coming months, Stoneham will work on proposals to bring before the City Council for consideration.