Centralia plans to put some power lines underground

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CENTRALIA - The city of Centralia is putting some electrical power lines underground in hopes to improve its electric grid and economic development. 

It plans on grounding electric conduits, or tubes, under three different locations along the railroads. This will allow more electric power to be used in the northern part of the city. 

City administrator Matt Harline said the city is contracted with BHMG Engineers to design an underground conduit project. Digging begins next week. The total cost for the electrical boring, or digging, will be about $94,000. The rest of the project costs including insurance and the engineering will be about $135,000-140,000. 

"We will take power lines underground across the two different railroads tracks, the Norfolk Southern and the Kansas City Southern, to help us improve our reliability of our electrical grid," Harline said. "It will help us increase the utlitization of our newer electrical substation on Wilson Street as well."

Harline said one of the reasons the city built the new substation on Wilson Street is because of the potential for industrial and commercial growth to the north and west part of town. 

"Right now, we may be adequate, but we don't have the resources available to get to that part of the community and the new conduits underground will let us do that," Harline said. 

The underground power lines placed under the railroads will allow the city to complete its electric grid to become a loop without any disconnections. 

Joy Billue lives in front of one of the construction locations. The city will have to dig underneath her yard to get across to the railroad tracks. She said she does not mind the work being done on her family's yard.

"In the long run, it will be a benefit for all of us," Billue said. "We do have power issues when there is a storm so if it will improve the issue, I am all for it."

Harline said this project is the best way to add capacity across the railroad tracks.