PUC Projects, What’s The Status?


In keeping with its ongoing commitment to improve public communication, the PUC has modified the format and content of the monthly Water Quality Improvement Project (Project) Updates. Moving forward these Monthly Activity Updates will provide the public with status reports on a variety of major projects on both the electric and water sides of the utility.
Water Quality Improvement Project
With respect to Water Treatment updates, the newly installed advanced treatment systems are now online and operating as expected. The PUC is now in the process of monitoring and adjusting these new systems to ensure that the water distribution system is acclimating properly to the changes. This long-term period of observing and fine-tuning the process will culminate in the 4th quarter of 2015 with another Ipsos Reid survey, designed to measure public satisfaction with the city’s water quality. As previously mentioned the results of this survey will be compared to the baseline established by the previous survey conducted in May 2014, to help determine Stage 1’s effectiveness. The results of this survey and all other relevant information will be used to determine whether implementing Stage 2 of the Project will be required.

Water Distribution Projects
Concerning Water Distribution updates, PUC crews and contractors, in conjunction with City staff are busy with this year’s road reconstruction projects. The streets slated for reconstruction this year are:
· Upton Road (from Queen St E to Wellington St)
· Kensington Street
· McMeeken Street (from Churchill Blvd to Elizabeth St)
· Elizabeth Street (from Queen St E to McMeeken St)
· John Street (from Queen St W to Albert St)
· Huron Street (from Queen St. W to Cathcart St)
Updated information on the progress of each of these projects can be found in the PUC Weekly Activity Notice issued every week.

Electrical Distribution Projects
On the electric side of the utility, PUC is pleased to report on the status of several major infrastructure renewal projects including the Substation #10 rebuild on Blake Avenue as well as a number of neighborhood infrastructure renewal projects.

Sault Ste. Marie’s electrical distribution system is serviced by 15 electrical Distribution substations that are situated across the city. Distribution substations perform a number of important functions, but the primary purpose is to transform or lower voltages from 34,500 volts to either 12,470 volts or 4,160 volts. The PUC is pleased to report that earlier this year, after considerable hard work and commitment, staff were able to connect the recently rebuilt Blake Avenue station to the distribution system. “I’d like to acknowledge the substantial efforts and dedication of PUC staff as well as all those involved in bringing this important infrastructure renewal project to successful completion,” says Claudio Stefano, Vice President Operations and Engineering.

“While the Blake Avenue station was the first substation to undergo a complete rebuild, the reality is that some of the remaining 14 substations are approaching the end of their useful life and will need to be rebuilt or refurbished over the next 20 years,” says Stefano. “We must be proactive in addressing the aging electrical infrastructure in order to ensure the continued reliability of this essential service.” PUC staff has already started the engineering design process for reconstruction of the Third Line station. A distribution substation rebuild takes about 2-3 years to complete, with a cost of approximately $3.5 million per station.

Rebuilding substations isn’t the only area of electric infrastructure renewal the PUC has been focusing on. Staff has been active in a number of areas across the city completing targeted neighborhood infrastructure renewal projects. These projects are varied in nature but generally involve replacing aging conductors, poles and transformers, as well as converting distribution voltage levels to higher voltages. These neighborhood infrastructure renewal projects are ongoing and will result in a number of small isolated power outages within the renewal area, over the course of the work period. Customers in the affected area will be notified prior to any planned power outage by telephone (through the Atlas Notification System) and/or, door-to-door paper notices.

Completing renewal projects like the ones mentioned above allows PUC to provide its customers with a more reliable and efficient supply of power. Sault Ste. Marie has already realized the benefits of a targeted approach to infrastructure renewal, in conjunction with an aggressive tree trimming program. As reported in PUC’s Annual Shareholder Report, (presented to City Council May 11th) the city’s electrical distribution system reliability in 2014 has improved by over 50% compared to 2013. “What that means, is the number of power outages experienced by our customers on average has decreased by 55% as compared to 2013… and those outages were, on average, 52% shorter in duration than in 2013.” says PUC President and CEO Dominic Parrella. “We are pleased to see that our targeted investments made in the electrical distribution system are making a real impact. Our community hasn’t seen this level of power reliability in over 15 years.”

Customers looking for more information on the Project, or other infrastructure renewal projects are encouraged to visit the PUC website; www.ssmpuc.com or call Customer Service at 705-759-6522 Monday through Friday (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).