Some of you may remember that during our Annual Meeting in April, I shared a video spotlighting the new developments taking place along U.S. Highway 331 in Freeport, Florida. In case you missed it, developments such as Owl’s Head Plantation, Owl’s Head Farms, Longleaf at Owl’s Head and the Bluffs at Lafayette will bring roughly 1,200 single-family homes, 350 multi-family units and 45-acres of commercial property to the main route running north to south in Walton County.
In anticipation of this growth, CHELCO has been working with our generation and transmission cooperative, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, on a new substation to serve these developing communities for over three years. I’m excited to share that more recently, the land was cleared for the new “Owls Head Substation”, and the footprint of the new site, running parallel to the powerlines, is now more evident.
The first new substation to be built on CHELCO’s grid since 2017, provides several benefits to CHELCO and its members. The most significant is that the new substation provides us with the opportunity to create more backup sources of power. If major outages occur at one of our nearby substations, we can quickly switch circuits and restore power to most members while repairs are being done.
The new substation, situated on over 3.5 acres, has extra room for additional equipment should developments continue. A very likely scenario considering a report released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) of Florida ranked Freeport among the top five cities with the fastest growth rate in the state.
Sporting more capacity, this new substation can house 50-mega volt amps (MVA) with 25-MVA being installed initially. This is a drastic increase from neighboring Freeport substation, which has 12.5-MVA. Not to be outdone, the existing Freeport substation will be receiving some much-needed upgrades as well once Owls Head is complete.
Owned and constructed by PowerSouth, the benefits of the substation, coupled with the minimal cost to CHELCO and its members, make this project a huge win for all of us.
We hope to have the Owls Head Substation energized by December of 2023, barring any unforeseen circumstances. I look forward to sharing more about this with you in the months to come.