Mason PUD 3 Anticipates Growth in North Mason and Increases System Resiliency for Customers on the Tahuya Peninsula and in Belfair
by Mason PUD 3 on
December 27, 2021
Significant Investment in Electrical and Fiber Infrastructure in North Mason County
As Belfair and the North Mason area continue to see growth, Mason PUD 3 has been investing in infrastructure to increase capacity and reliability in its electrical and fiber optic systems to meet these growing needs. Additionally, the PUD is working on plans for upgrades to its existing Belfair substation to improve reliability and add capacity which is needed now for economic development. It is likely an additional substation will be necessary to meet the industrial and commercial growth slated for the area.
Customers in the area may experience temporary or planned power outages in order to accommodate final connections on some of these upcoming electrical and/or broadband projects.
ELECTRIC SYSTEM PROJECTS
Many projects have already been completed in the North Mason area to improve the reliability of the system as well as in anticipation of the growth the area is now experiencing. Several other electrical projects are in various stages of planning and or construction.
In 2020, the PUD inspected, tested, and treated every PUD pole on the Tahuya Peninsula. The utility has a plan to replace any aging distribution poles identified through this inspection process over next two years and aging transmission poles this upcoming summer. As part of this project, the PUD also inspected all underground facilities on the Tahuya Peninsula and in Belfair.
Also in recent years, the PUD upgraded relay equipment within its Collins Lake Substation from electro-mechanical to computer-based (or microprocessors) which is not only able to provide the PUD with real-time data, but also reduce the outage restoration time in many cases. Similarly, the PUD is currently working on fully modernizing the protection equipment at the Union River Substation from electro-mechanical to microprocessors allowing for the same reliability improvements. This project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022.
A new distribution line (feeder) was constructed up Sandhill Road to provide for more flexibility and reliability. This leads to additional capacity to the area as well as allows linemen to isolate damaged sections of line in an outage situation and restore power faster to more customers by having the option to re-route electricity from different directions. The utility has already taken advantage of this feature in a recent outage caused by a fallen tree.
Finally, the PUD is working on plans to upgrade the transformer at the Belfair Substation which will nearly double the capacity and improve reliability to the area. With the possible addition of a switching yard in place of its deteriorating warehouse building, the PUD can utilize its existing tap into the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission lines and avoid the periodic situation of losing five of its substations at once when a local transmission line is hit by a tree or limb.
RURAL BROADBAND EXPANSION
The PUD has completed several fiber-to-the-home networks over the past several years to the Tahuya Peninsula and Belfair area under its “Fiberhood” program.
Completed builds include:
- Haven Lake
- Wooten Lake
- Lake Christine
- Collins Lake
- Tahuya River Valley
- Belfair Town
- Log Yard Road
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the PUD jumped into action to provide a solution for students who were sent home with little to no internet connection. In partnership with many community agencies, the PUD installed several wireless hotspots for families to access for free.
In North Mason, those hotspots are located in the following areas:
- Sand Hill Ball Fields
- Collins Lake Fire Station
- Tahuya River Valley
- Tahuya Town
- Port of Dewatto
Additionally, the PUD values its community partnerships with first responders, schools, and community centers and has ensured a reliable internet connection is available to the following:
- All manned North Mason Regional Fire locations
- All North Mason School District locations
- Port of Dewatto
- Belfair State Park
- Camp Lyle McLeod (Girl Scouts)
- Tahuya Post Office
Lastly, there are still many “Fiberhoods” in the design and construction stages, with a commitment to be completed over the next several years:
Each of these projects takes careful financial planning and coordination so the utility can continue its tradition of over 40 years of clean annual audits, keeping its rates among the lowest in the nation, and still being recognized as one of the most reliable utilities in the United States.
The PUD is excited about the opportunity to better serve its customers in the North Mason communities and contribute to the economic growth of the area.