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Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities is planning to upgrade its electric system in the upcoming fiscal year. The work will include the replacement of the 46 kilovolt transformer at its North Road substation. The substation is the utility’s largest.

The City of Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities plans to spend about $45 million on capital projects in the coming fiscal year.

DPU’s capital improvement plan includes 28 projects.

The utility had to delay a number of projects originally scheduled for 2020 due to COVID.

Here are highlights of some of the new and previously approved capital projects for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

Electric Division

Electric Division Director Wade Holmes presented the following projects at a recent meeting:

• New – Upgrading the 46 kilovolt system.

The upgrade will eliminate the need for 46kV delivery points from Dominion Energy and help the utility to be consistent with industry standards.

It also creates a transmission system that is more controlled and operated by the utility’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. SCADA is a computer-based system for gathering and analyzing real-time data to monitor and control equipment.

The upgrade would also enable the utility to replace the 46kV transformer at its North Road substation, the utility’s largest substation.

The project’s cost is about $2.9 million.

• New – Adding a 115kV loop to its Galaxy Road substation. The $9 million project will entail the construction of 5.1 miles of 115kV transmission lines to bring the substation into its 115kV loop.

• New – Increasing the electrical capacity of the Glover Street substation. The $2.9 million rebuild is a part of the utility’s overall upgrade of existing aging infrastructure and its effort to improve the reliability of its 46kV system.

The new substation would be rebuilt across the street from the existing substation.

• New — Upgrading the utility’s mobile radio system to 800 megahertz. Currently, DPU has a 400 megahertz radio system that is about 15 years old and parts cannot be found for the system.

The new system will give the utility GPS capability, which would let it track trucks and would save the district an estimated $30,000 annually.

The project will cost about $1.3 million.

• Previously approved – Shifting 46kV lines from underground to overhead, which will make maintenance of the lines easier at its North Road substation. The underground power cables are about 30 years old. About $295,000 will be spent in the coming fiscal year.

• Previously approved – Replacing the transformer on the Old Elloree Road substation. The existing substation transformer experienced lower-than-expected performance.

• Previously approved – Replacing a transformer at the substation on Rowesville Road. The new transformer will be able to handle a greater power load. The existing transformer, which is 30 years old, will be repurposed to serve an industrial customer. The substation serves industrial parks and the utility’s wastewater treatment plant.

• Previously approved – Consolidating three of the utility’s substations into one at the utility’s Sprinkle Avenue substation. The other three substations, which are between 42 and 63 years old, will be used for other purposes. The project increases flexibility, reliability and will be loop fed from the utility’s 115kV transmission system.

About $7.1 million has already been spent on the projects, which have a total cost of $41.8 million. About $16 million will be spent this year.

Water Division

Water Division Director Eric Odom presented the following projects at a recent meeting:

• New – Installing new, automated water meters. The utility has installed about 3,000 to 4,000 water meters over the past few years. The project will replace the remaining 18,000 to 20,000 water meters.

The project will improve billing timeliness, meter reading ability and allow customers to have access to notifications about possible water leaks. Customers will not have to wait 30 or 60 days to realize they have a water leak.

The total cost of the project is $6.5 million.

• New – Water main replacement project. The area targeted in the coming year will be south of Russell Street; north of Whitman and Gregg Street; and borders Magnolia and Whittaker Parkway.

The infrastructure in the area was built in the 1950s. Recently, the utility has had to go to the area several times to replace broken valves and respond to water main breaks. Water flows have decreased over the area in recent years.

About 20,000 feet of pipe will replaced over the next two years. The project will improve water quality and water flow in the area.

Grants will be sought for the project, including a $500,000 Rural Infrastructure grant to do the first phase of the project.

The city plans to apply for a Community Development Block Grant in March 2022 for the second phase of the project.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $3.9 million. About $2 million will be spent in the coming fiscal year.

• Previously approved – Relocating 12-inch water main across the Edisto River due to U.S. 301 bridge replacement.

The project is on hold until the S.C. Department of Transportation proceeds with the bridge replacement. As a result, DPU does not expect to spend any money this coming fiscal year on the project.

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The project will increase the pipe size from 12 inches to 18 inches. The cast iron pipe will also be replaced new ductile iron with upgraded valves.

The project is expected to cost about $2 million.

The water division projects will cost a total of $12.4 million, with about $8.5 million being spent this coming fiscal year. About $93,367 has already been spent on the water projects.

Administrative Division

Director Josh Nexsen presented the following projects at a recent meeting:

• New – HVAC replacement in the utility’s main floor office. The utility’s four units were installed in 2000. The estimated cost to replace each are between $40,000 and $60,000. The utility will also look at replacing the roof of its main headquarters. The building was built in 1976 and the roof was reconstructed between 1987 and 1990.

The utility plans to spend about $350,000 on the HVAC project in 2022 and about $350,000 for the new roof as well.

It will take about a year to complete.

• New – Upgrading the utility’s enterprise software. The estimated cost of the project is $550,000. The software was put in place about six years ago and was last upgraded about three years ago.

The upgrade will improve workflow and collections stream processes. The project is expected to take six months to a year to implement.

• New – Clearing land on Sprinkle Avenue behind DPU’s current operations center. The 26-acre property will be cleared in an effort to improve stormwater drainage. DPU officials say the property could also be a future site for commercial or industrial development.

• New – Assess the utility’s cyber security for the internal network that handles its business systems. The assessment will include the system’s fiber optic network. The project will take six to 12 months. The cost is estimated at about $250,000.

• Previously approved – A continuing project includes an upgrade to the DPU operations and center crew quarters and assembly building. The building is being enlarged to house outside utility crews in the event of a weather event. The project is nearing completion.

About $10.7 million has already been spent on the administrative projects so far with about $6.4 million remaining to be spent this coming year.

Gas Division

Director Dave Durgin presented the following projects at a recent meeting:

• New – Replacing aging piping on Riverside Drive as part of an effort to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

The project will cost about $325,000 and will entail the replacement of an 8-inch aging steel gas main. The project should take 10 months to complete.

• New – Extending natural gas service to parts of the county where natural gas services are not provided. The cost is $1 million.

The project will entail the installation of 19,000 feet of two-inch to six-inch lines. The project should take about a year to complete.

• Previously approved – U.S. 301 bridge replacement gas project. The utility is awaiting the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s final design.

About 2,000 feet of steel pipe will be replaced and new valves installed.

The estimated cost is $1.3 million.

• Previously approved – Replacing infrastructure on Belleville Road. The project has been delayed due to COVID-19. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

The project will entail the replacement of about 17,000 feet of two-inch and 10-inch steel main.

The estimated cost is $1.1 million.

• Previously approved – Replacing infrastructure in the Edisto Drive area. The project has also been delayed by COVID.

The project cost is about $1.2 million. The project will replace pipe that has a coating no longer used in the gas industry. Additional valves will be replaced.

The total cost of the projects in the gas division is about $5.3 million with about $4.2 million expected to be spent this year. Thus far, about $485,828 has been spent on the gas projects.

Wastewater Division

Director Richard Labrador presented the following projects at a recent meeting:

• Previously approved – Replacing a biosolid dryer that had exceeded its useful life and was not operational. The project was mainly complete. The dryer will have a projected lifespan of 20 to 25 years and will have a larger footprint than the previous dryer.

• Previously approved – U.S. 601/I-26 wastewater extension. Substantially complete. Tri-County Electric Cooperative will reimburse DPU 100% of the cost.

• Previously approved – Country Club Estates wastewater rehabilitation. Aging infrastructure allows rainwater and groundwater into the system.

The project will replace deteriorated pipes and manholes.

The project will cost $375,000 over three years. The first phase is expected to cost about $125,000.

The total cost of wastewater division projects is $9.7 million with about $9.3 million already spent.

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