Belfair Electrical Upgrades

Belfair Electrical Upgrades

The PUD 3's Belfair Infrastructure Project, beginning at the site of its former warehouse property, is to increase reliability and capacity for the North Mason communities.

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The Belfair Infrastructure project is a priority for the District to increase resiliency, reliability, and capacity for its North Mason customers. The first phase of the project is at the site of the former Belfair Warehouse. There, we will construct a switching station to upgrade PUD 3's connection to BPA's transmission lines. This work will provide existing customers a more reliable connection to the regional grid. It will also provide future connection points to increase electrical capacity for additional residential and commercial development in the Belfair urban growth area.

Please review Frequently Asked Questions and answers below.

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RELIABILITY: The ring-bus will provide modern protection upgrades to avoid impacting thousands of customers on multiple substations when problems occur. With the current technology of the Belfair Substation, when a fault occurs on the transmission side, the only protection is for BPA to drop the feed between Shelton and Bremerton and Mason PUD 3 loses transmission to five substations at once. This causes widespread power outages to over 17,000 customers, and greatly delays restoration times.

CAPACITY: PUD 3 is not able to provide the power to meet the large requests and short timeline opportunities that have been proposed over the past several years. The lack of electrical capacity continues to be a primary deterrent for companies considering locating to Mason County and the Belfair area. The Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project will open the Belfair manufacturing and industrial area to commercial growth, providing significant economic benefits to all the surrounding communities (including Belfair, Shelton, Grapeview, Allyn, Tahuya peninsula, and even Bremerton in Kitsap County). In recent years, the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Mason County, had to turn away multiple recruitment opportunities due to lack of electrical infrastructure capacity. This resulted in an estimated loss of hundreds of potential new jobs.

BPA TRANSMISSION TAP: The project also provides an opportunity to expand access to the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) high voltage transmission system for future load growth in the area. BPA has restricted any future taps along this transmission corridor, so the only way to provide additional capacity for customers is through a ring-bus style switching station like the one we're constructing in phase one of the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project. 

The Project generally consists of four phases. 

Phase 1 – Remove the old Belfair Warehouse and construct a ring bus switching station on PUD-owned property. This will include modifying the connection to the high-voltage BPA transmission lines and re-feeding the Belfair Substation and the Union River / Collins Lake Substations out of the new switching station.

Phase 2 - Upgrade the existing Belfair Substation with a larger-capacity transformer. This will allow for additional growth within its existing service reach, and provide increased resiliency and reliability for the residential, commercial, and industrial growth in the area.

Phase 3 - Construction of a new 3.6-mile 115 kV transmission line from the PUD's new switching station to the site of a future substation near the Belfair Water District's water tower. After evaluating multiple routes, the best plan is to generally follow BPA's transmission corridor and then up along Clifton Ridge to the new substation location (see Phase 4 below).

Phase 4 - The final phase of this multi-year project will be to construct a new high-capacity substation near the Belfair Water Tower to serve upcoming development in the Log Yard Road area and on land that will be opened by the future WSDOT Belfair Freight Corridor project. This new substation will also allow PUD 3 to re-route power to Belfair and Tahuya in emergency situations if there are issues on the primary transmission line.

The Project will be physically located in/near the Belfair Urban Growth Area.

The first phase will be to construct a switching station at the former PUD 3 Belfair Warehouse (21341 E State Route 3). There will also be a future transmission line from here, generally following the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) utility corridor along Clifton Ridge, to a future substation location near the Belfair Water District water tower and Log Yard Road.

This project is a significant investment bringing more electrical capacity to serve North Mason County businesses and residents, inclding those in Belfair, Allyn, Victor, and the Tahuya Peninsula.

The total project cost for all phases could be upwards of $16 Million. Most of the specialized equipment needed, and labor to install it, is subject to competitive bid processes. There are many stages to this type of multiyear project, so providing a hard dollar amount in these early stages is challenging.

PUD 3 has been the recipient of two grant awards to help this project get started:

  • Representative Derek Kilmer supported an application that was awarded $3 Million through the Congressional Directed Spending Project. 
  • The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with Mason County as a conduit, is providing $1.5 Million for the project.

The IGNITE Mason County group has identified the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project as a high priority in its pursuit of funding through the ReCompete Act, another effort to invest in rural communities by Congressman Kilmer.

PUD will continue to pursue grants and financial assistance for this project to reduce the impact on rate payers. System Capacity Funds, capital construction bonds, and ultimately electric rates will provide the backstop for project costs that cannot be funded through grant awards.

The Belfair customer service office has been at its new location in the Olympia Federal Savings building for several years, and the payment kiosk has been relocated from the warehouse to the customer service office for convenience and safety. This service to customers has not changed.

The Belfair line crew has been reporting out of the Johns Prairie Operations Center since the beginning of 2023. The District is keeping this crew dedicated to the Belfair/North Mason area because they know the area and the system well.

When outages occur during normal business hours, crews respond from wherever they might be working in the Belfair area or around the County.

When an outage occurs outside of normal business hours, one of our two off-hours linemen are the first to be dispatched to investigate. They call for additional personnel or resources as needed to get power restored. Linemen and other operations employees respond from where they live throughout Mason County to pick up equipment from the operations center in Shelton. Commonly used equipment such as poles are staged at other various locations in the North Mason area. Linemen also keep an assortment of material for repairs on their truck. Sometimes, Warehousemen are dispatched to bring unique items to help restore power. These practices have not changed in many years.

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