National Grid investing into new Niagara Falls substations

Sep. 21—Parts of Niagara Falls' outdated electricity infrastructure are getting a needed overhaul.

National Grid has invested $19.2 million in a modern substation along Royal Avenue that went into service this year, replacing the nearby Harper transmission station which dates back to the 1930s.

Construction of the new substation started in May 2020 and took a little more than two years to complete.

Mike Lindhurst, the lead supervisor for substations for National Grid's western division, said the new substation receives 115,000 volts from the Packard substation and two transformers work to reduce that voltage to 13,200 volts.

While different substations work to service 15,000 National Grid customers in Niagara Falls, the Royal Avenue substation is able to directly service two nearby businesses, Goodyear and Niacet.

"Now, Goodyear is being served off a system that's brand new, as opposed to a system that's close to 100 years old," said Ken Kujawa, National Grid's Western New York regional director.

Upgrades include microprocessor digital relays replacing electromechanical relays and making the substation capable of handling energy generated by customers, such as from solar panels on houses.

The electricity received at the Royal Avenue substation is generated by the Niagara Power Project, natural gas-fired plants, and wind and solar projects.

National Grid also is working on improving three other substations as part of its $80 million Southern Niagara Falls Rebuild project. These are:

—The Stephenson Avenue distribution station, upgrading of which was completed recently with the aim of putting it into service later this year. This job cost $24 million. A tunnel was bored underneath the I-190 and LaSalle Expressway to support lines going to the station.

—The Welch Avenue distribution substation, construction at which began this summer and should be finished in 2024. The projected cost is $18.2 million.

—The Eighth Street substation, where work will be done in 2024-2025. The projected cost is $18.7 million.

When these upgrades are completed, these substations will receive power from the Royal Avenue substation and the Harper transmission station will be demolished.

"We're making investments in our infrastructure across New York state," Kujawa said. "We also have to make sure that we have the sufficient capacity to be able to serve our customers."