Hurricane-grade construction and reliability standards will ensure the Caribbean Utility Company’s new US$7 million Hydesville substation delivers uninterrupted service to West Bay when it opens next month.
The structure, 10 feet above sea level, boasts reinforced concrete walls and ceilings designed to withstand continuous winds of 150 mph.
Four new distribution feeders, controlled remotely from CUC’s North Sound Road central control room, will deliver power to West Bay.
CUC’s developed its storm-grade building standards in the wake of 1988’s Hurricane Gilbert, which damaged large parts of the company’s electricity grid.
An extensive study of the risks posed by such storms led the company to develop stringent rules for both construction and reliability, and a requirement to place transmission and distribution substations indoors.
In 2000, with assistance from ABB T&D Power Solutions of the United States, CUC completed its North Sound Plant Substation and South Sound Substation, the first two facilities in a series of newly designed 69 kiloVolt, state-of-the-art, gas-insulated switchgear, indoor substations.
In 2002, the Frank Sound Substation, a virtual copy of the South Sound plant, was completed and the first phase activated.
In April 2004, site filling and grading work began on the 3,250-square-foot Hydesville Substation, near Willie Farrington Drive in West Bay
Builders were scheduled to start pouring concrete at Hydesville, the fourth of the company’s indoor stations, in September 2004, but Hurricane Ivan disrupted progress.
The delay none the less vindicated CUC’s decision to build substations using hurricane-grade standards. Ivan did only minor damage to exterior facades, leaving sensitive switchgear and support systems unscathed.
Had the company not invested in such strict building codes, Ivan might have proved catastrophic.
‘Cayman’s environment can be quite harsh on our utility’s infrastructure,’ said Lee Tinney, CUC Vice-President for transmission and distribution, detailing the safety features of the station’s construction.
Once completed, he said, Hydesville, with a cosmetic roof, front-porch railings and fake shuttered windows, will resemble a traditional Caymanian house, blending with the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
Contractors and sub-contractors involved in the construction and electrical work are ABB, DDL Architects, Hadsphaltic International Limited, Hay Electric Co. Ltd., and Paul Bodden Heavy Equipment Services.