When the Brogden Road power substation was built by the Town of Smithfield nearly 10 years ago, plans were made to have two transformers at the site. Should one fail, another one was already be in place. That second transformer was never installed.
Should the single transformer at the substation fail, residents in South Smithfield could be without power for days or even weeks if it could not be repaired on site.
At their September meeting, members of the Smithfield Town Council approved the first step towards a second transformer. The town agreed to spend up to $85,000 with Booth & Associates to draw plans and specifications for the second transformer. That work should be completed no later than February 2016.
Afterwards, pending council approval, a new transformer could be ordered. It would then take about 12 more months for it to be built and installed. The projected price is between $1 million and $1.1 million.
Town Councilman Perry Harris questioned Smithfield Finance Director Greg Siler if a bond issue might be better than a bank loan to pay for the transformer. Siler suggested, and Interim Utilities Director Pete Connet agreed, a bank loan was the best option. “Because of the low interest environment now,” Siler said, “interest rates are as low or lower than bond issues.”
Also copper and metal costs are low, meaning the construction of the new transformer is at a 5 year low. A town memo suggests the transformer can be built 20% cheaper now than it could 5 years ago.