Electrical Lines Could Give Parts of Columbia Commercial Access

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COLUMBIA - A new electrical plan could open up one of the largest commercial areas in Columbia. The Columbia Water and Light department held a meeting Tuesday to share the Discovery Park development with all residents in Columbia, especially those who own property adjacent to or near the project area. 

The large development plan would provide more electrical capacity and reliability to the commercial, residential and retail area located from Grindstone Parkway to the Discovery Park development at Ponderosa and Discovery Parkway.

Columbia Water and Light electrical engineer, Dan Clark said this area has the potential to be one of the biggest commercial areas in Columbia.

"It has multiple uses, residential and retail. It probably going to be at least as big or even bigger than the Columbia mall when it is all built out," he said.

Although there seem to be many positives to the underground electrical system, Clark said the plan would be quite expensive.

"It's probably going to cost around $700,000 to do this work which seems like a great deal of money but then again when people pay their electric bill every month that seems like a lot of money to them and this is what that money is used for to build new power lines and provide reliable service." said Clark. "We don't anticipate that this would be controversial in any way but still it is a lot of money. We want people to know how the funds that we collect from their electric bills are being spent."

The potential underground electric feeder would take the new electrical circuit from the grindstone substation and bring it to the Discovery Park development. From there, it would back up what currently serves Father Tolton Catholic High School.

If the space remains how it is now, Clark said the problem will still be there.

"There will definitely still be a problem, it's not reliable enough to serve such a large development. Currently there is only one electrical line circuit that serves the catholic school nearby the development," said Clark.

Having the electrical lines underground could be safer during severe weather. Clark said even though the lines may be safer, there are still potential problems.

"Underground lines are pretty much impervious to ice storms. They are not maintenance free, you can still have cable failures. So you do have to pay close attention to that underground power line just as you would the overhead power line but you don't have the sames kinds of problems," said Clark.

The Discovery Park development is still in the planning stages. The route could change due to suggestions at Tuesday's meeting. Columbia Water and Light will make a report to the city council. If approved, construction can begin. They hope to have the electrical line built by spring.