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GWP may amp up power substation

February 13, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Utility officials are considering spending $12.5 million to boost capacity at an electrical substation to serve the growing needs of Glendale’s San Fernando Road Corridor — home to DreamWorks and Disney’s Creative Campus.

Glendale Water & Power officials originally expected the money for the improvements to come from a proposed $60-million electric utility bond. But with the prolonged discussion about water rate hikes in recent months and some anti-bond sentiment at City Hall, officials now plan to pay for the project through cash reserves.

“We have to make sure they can turn on the lights,” said Ramon Abueg, the utility’s assistant general manager for electrical services, referring to business customers in the corridor.

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The City Council will discuss the possibility of issuing a bond when the utility presents a plan to increase electricity rates. And that wouldn’t come until after a vote on water rate changes.

While the water side of the utility is $13.5 million in the red and searching for ways to boost reserves, the electricity side has $75 million in reserves, Abueg said. However, paying for the electricity upgrade through that account means other projects, such as extending several communication systems and circuit breaker replacements, will be postponed, he said.

“It’s something we’re deciding [to do] to support the business development in [the San Fernando Road corridor],” Abueg said.

The city, through its now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, injected millions of dollars into the corridor to transform the blighted area into a bustling business district. In addition to Disney and DreamWorks, Technicolor also has opened an office there.

This week the council gave the go-ahead for utility officials to check for engineering and construction firms that are qualified to reconstruct the 80-year-old Grandview electrical substation on San Fernando Road. In addition to the voltage upgrade, proposed improvements include a more pleasing design, according to a city report.

Abueg said the city has spent more than $1.5 million in the past two years to convert infrastructure throughout the corridor to handle higher voltage.

Last year, the city spent about $12 million to upgrade the Glorietta Substation in North Glendale to make it compatible with another higher-voltage substation in the area.

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