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ALACHUA – Alachua city leaders gathered Tuesday morning at the new Legacy Park Electrical substation for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Joining in was an assembled crowd of government dignitaries, representatives from Jacobs Electrical Engineering and Duke Energy and city employees, including the members of the city’s electric department who will maintain the substation. The facility comes online just one year after the project’s groundbreaking in 2020.

The new electric substation expands the electrical grid to supply power to the growing city and improve reliability. The substation is in line with the city’s long-range capital plan, which for a number of years, has been exploring expanding the electrical grid in anticipation of growth.

City Manager Adam Boukari said that the substation brings a more efficient power system for residents, acknowledging the work of predecessors who had the foresight to pursue this project and determination to see it accomplished. He specifically referenced outgoing City Commissioner Gary Hardacre, who is not seeking reelection this April. Boukari said that Hardacre pressed to see the substation a reality.

The new substation in the southwestern part of the city expands the supply of power and lessens outages by creating a looped system between two stations. By looping the two, power can be transferred from one station to the other and isolate outages and shorten the time to get customers back on line. The system also creates a wider power grid to compensate for increased demand due to commercial and residential development.

The Alachua City Commission adopted the substation as a high priority strategic initiative in June 2018 and solicited formal proposals from qualified vendors to provide engineering inspection services and design to assist in the expansion of the City’s electric system.

The winning bid went to electrical engineering firm Jacobs to provide construction engineering inspection services for the expansion of electrical infrastructure with construction of the Legacy Substation.

The Legacy Park location was selected for the site of the new substation with design and construction accomplished and coordinated with Duke Energy. The City constructed the substation with Duke agreeing to purchase the non-real property substation assets of equipment to transfer power from its transmission line to the substation and convert that power for distribution throughout the city and to city utility customers. Duke paid $1,039,857 of the total project cost of $5.7 million.

Duke Energy’s Dan Smith said that having the substation operational just a year after groundbreaking was quite an accomplishment and would greatly increase reliability of the electric grid. City of Alachua Public Services Director Rudolfo Valladares thanked City electric department workers for their efforts in getting the station ready. Mayor Gib Coerper also spoke, thanking city official s and reflecting on the people that had the determination to see the project to completion.

Boukari said that despite the cost of the project the City’s electric utility is still debt free and that the project would pay for itself multiple times.

“It’s all about investing in the future and improving the quality of life and City services to the community,” Boukari said.

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