Eversource starts work on new facility in Franklin

  • Dozens of trees are being cleared as Eversource Energy begins construction on a new power distribution substation in Franklin. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Franklin’s Eversource power substation is getting an upgrade in order to keep up with demand for electricity in the area. Elodie Reed / Monitor staff

  • This rendering shows the landscaping Eversource plans to do once construction is complete for the Daniel substation in Franklin. —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 12/14/2016 6:07:28 PM

Franklin residents will probably notice a new clearing – and dozens of tree stumps – as construction gets under way on a new Eversource Energy distribution substation.

The project was approved by Franklin officials earlier this fall after the power company worked out landscaping agreements with nearby abutters to the site.

It is not related to the proposed Northern Pass project.

Eversource is building a new substation called “Daniel” next to its existing Webster substation along Webster Lake Road. These types of facilities act as a tool to reduce electricity voltage from power lines to an appropriate level for home use.

Tree clearing began this month, construction should start in mid-2017 and the project is expected to be completed in its entirety by early 2018.

“The project is needed due to load growth in the Franklin area,” Kaitlyn Woods, an Eversource spokeswoman, said Tuesday. “The New Daniel Substation will replace equipment that is nearing the end of its life.”

She noted the new, 34.5- kilovolt system will serve about 12,000 customers under normal conditions.

The Franklin planning board’s meeting minutes show that the $12.7 million project includes replacing three aging transformers with two new ones, installing a 45,000-square-foot gravel switchyard and putting up overhead wires to connect the Daniel and Webster substations.

To make room for the new facility as well as to protect the existing power lines, hundreds of trees have already been cut down – and more will fall before the new year.

An aerial photo provided by Eversource of the 16.8-acre property shows a mostly wooded area prior to this new construction project.

“We are removing some hazardous trees as requested by the abutters of the project,” Woods said.

Abutters also asked during a public hearing in September that landscaping plans be put into place to mitigate the view and sounds coming from the site.

Eversource agreed to provide various combinations of fencing – plus newly planted trees – on neighbors’ properties, as well as a 4-foot-tall contoured berm with two rows of 8- to 10-foot arborvitae trees in front of the substations.

With these measures in place, the Franklin planning board voted unanimously to accept the project’s site plan application.

Franklin planning and zoning director Dick Lewis said the station has been there for 50-plus years and it’s only natural that it needs an upgrade.

“If you think a facility like that is going to stay static for 50 years, 60 years, you might be thinking about the wrong thing or your hopes may be too high,” Lewis said. “It’s just part of the infrastructure process.”

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

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