Staff Photo by John Rawlston--EPB employees Oliver Tarvin, above, and Jim Parker work to repair a utility pole at the scene of an auto accident at the corner of Third Avenue and 35th Street on Wednesday afternoon. The EPB will soon undertake a $16 million project for a substation for the new Volkswagen plant.
Whenever Volkswagen begins full production, the plant likely will become the city’s largest-ever electric user, officials said.
“This will create the largest single industry on the system,” said David Wade, senior vice president of EPB’s electric system.
During the peak of its production, DuPont used about 40 megawatts of power, said EPB President Harold DePriest. Although Volkswagen’s plant will start off using about 33 megawatts, once it begins full production the facility will need 80 megawatts of capacity, he said.
EPB’s power demand hit a record peak of 1,302 megawatts on Aug. 22 last year, Mr. Wade said. The previous record was 1,276 megawatts on Jan. 17, 1977, during a time when Chattanooga had more manufacturers than it does now, he said.
“It took 30 years of growth to compensate for the same level of the ’70s with the manufacturing we had then,” Mr. Wade said.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has ample capacity to serve Volkswagen, Mr. DePriest said.
EPB will begin final negotiations with Volkswagen and start grading the site and designing the $16 million substation in August to be located adjacent to the future factory, Mr. DePriest said. The utility presented three electric system designs to the German company during the manufacturer’s site selection, he said.
EPB also will build a 161 kilovolt line from its transmission system to the Volkswagen substation, Mr. Wade said.
BY THE NUMBERS
* 80 megawatts: Capacity of Volkswagen’s future substation
* $16 million: Volkswagen substation’s cost
* $6 million: Cost of substation for Volkswagen suppliers
Mr. DePriest said he anticipates that EPB will have to build a second substation worth $6 million to serve Volkswagen suppliers and related businesses.
EPB also expects to see a wave of home construction a year from now as the real estate market prepares for Volkswagen’s work force, Mr. DePriest said.
The Volkswagen substation’s cost will have to be added to EPB’s budget in the next two to three months, Mr. DePriest said. EPB’s fiscal year, which began July 1, had anticipated electric system revenue of $458.1 million, an increase from $448.6 million last fiscal year. But that was before Volkswagen’s announcement.
Construction of Volkswagen’s electric system will not require the addition of any staff, Mr. DePriest said.
The substation will be tied into EPB’s smart grid, a fiber-optic system that is currently under construction, Mr. Wade said. The smart grid will allow EPB to better monitor power use throughout the area and work with customers to conserve power, officials have said.
The smart grid also will be the backbone of EPB’s fiber-optic telecommunications system of video, telephone and high-speed Internet service. EPB supplied Volkswagen with information on system, called fiber to the home, but the telecommunications system was not a factor in the manufacturer’s decision to locate in Chattanooga, Mr. DePriest said.