SMUD advances new substation project
New Station E will deliver enhanced reliability to midtown, downtown and the SMUD grid
SMUD is constructing a new substation to replace an aging one to serve midtown and downtown. Construction of the new Station E Substation is expected to begin in 2018 and expected to be completed in 2020. The approximately $76 million project will enhance reliability for customers in the midtown neighborhoods and provide vital backup support to downtown Sacramento, as well as the entire SMUD grid. Reliability is a core value of the elected SMUD Board of Directors.
Station E is replacing the existing North City Substation, which is more than 60 years old and has reached end of life. The Station E construction project follows the city of Sacramento’s plan for growth. The substation is designed to accommodate increasing demand in the areas it serves for decades to come.
In addition to the construction of the new substation, SMUD is also cleaning up land at the site that SMUD purchased in 2013 to build the substation. SMUD is following its standard of “leaving it better than we found it” and paying about $13 million dollars for the cleanup and preparation of the site for substation construction.
When initial excavation began in 2015, unanticipated burn waste buried at the site decades ago was uncovered. SMUD disposed of the excavated burn waste at an approved landfill and halted construction. To address the remaining waste, SMUD then worked with relevant county and state regulatory agencies and developed a soils management plan with those agencies and monitored the site under county and state direction.
SMUD will soon move forward with the safe removal and disposal of much of the burn waste and replacement with fill material. SMUD will cap the remainder of the waste and then begin construction of the new substation.
Work to clean up the waste begins this spring, when the contaminated soil will be removed for transportation to an approved landfill. The work will continue through the summer. Before any work begins, SMUD is sharing the proposed plan by communicating directly with the nearby community and with other stakeholders through mailings, meetings, a website and other efforts to inform about the scope of the project, so they can make comments, ask questions, receive information and be kept informed throughout the construction period.
SMUD bought the parcel from Blue Diamond in 2013 to site the new substation, which is going to be located just southeast of the existing one. The environmental impacts for the project were analyzed under a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document, which the SMUD Board approved in 2014, and then SMUD discovered the burn waste in summer of 2015. The environmental impacts were analyzed again after discovery of the burn waste and addressed in accordance with the CEQA Guidelines.
Although the property is adjacent to former landfill sites, there was no public record of large quantities of buried burn waste onsite. Prior to the property purchase, SMUD commissioned a records search and soils investigation and found some levels of soils contamination on site, which is not uncommon in this area given the historical land use. The burn waste was an unexpected discovery.
After SMUD determined what the burn waste included lead, arsenic, petroleum and other contaminants, the portion of burn waste that had been excavated was disposed of at an approved disposal site and construction was halted. Excavations were temporarily closed and extensive testing was completed to validate the site could be maintained in a safe condition while SMUD determined what to do going forward. SMUD performed an extensive investigation to determine the extent and makeup of the burn waste.
To address the waste, SMUD has been working with county and state agencies that have jurisdiction over these matters. These agencies have reviewed the data that SMUD has collected and have been monitoring the site. Under the county and state direction, gas and water monitoring wells have been installed along the south and west perimeter of the site to validate that site contaminants have remained on the property.
SMUD has put measures in place to mitigate airborne material resulting from the work at the site from migrating. SMUD will conduct daily air monitoring and post that information publicly on the project website. SMUD will also provide the data on a daily basis to anyone requesting it.
A portion of the site that will not be used for substation construction, approximately four acres, will receive an impermeable cap approved by the county and state and will be monitored by the county on a quarterly basis. The project itself will not impact property values.
Learn more about the Station E project at SMUD.org/StationE.