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Conversion clean-up

Nelson’s downtown alleys will be getting a makeover as Nelson Hydro continues with it’s downtown conversion project.
Members of city council

Nelson’s downtown alleys will be getting a makeover as Nelson Hydro continues with it’s downtown conversion project.

The alleys are currently framed by older hydro infrastructure which includes two poles with a cross arm, but Alex Love with Nelson Hydro says the new look of the alleys will only include one pole.

“Removing the two poles is an improvement because our alleys are a little bit congested and one of our big problems is delivery trucks hitting poles,” says Love.

“If you take a good look at some of our big poles you see notches taken out by the tops of trucks. That weakens our poles and it causes shock to the electrical system which can cause outages. Going to poles on one side only will reduce congestion in the alleys some what.”

Nelson Hydro also spent a lot of time cutting open the roads and alleys downtown to bury cables.

“Because we buried our primary cables that feed the power into the downtown core they’re less exposed to events of lightning, wind events, vehicle strikes. We won’t have those problems causing outages downtown anymore,” says Love.

The transformers that were located on the old poles have now been moved to the ground in what Nelson Hydro has named transformer islands.

“One aspect of what we’ve done that I’m quite happy with is with the Cultural Development Commission they came up with a proposal for decorating these transformer boxes on the ground — we call them transformer islands. Some of them have the history of Nelson Hydro and some of them are going to have art by local artists,” says Love.

The downtown conversion project is an overall upgrade of Nelson Hydro’s distribution systems within Nelson.

Love says there are several reasons for doing this which include upgrading old infrastructure and changing the system from having mixed distribution voltage to one common voltage.

“There is 5,000 volts, 25,000 volts and a couple of other little oddballs in there. We would like a common standard of 25,000 because that’s a modern day distribution system and that means carrying spare parts and inventory can be consolidated a lot more within the system,” he says.

In the spring of 2012, new wires will be hung from the new poles and fed from customers to the transformer islands.

“We have many customers who have already be fed power underground and those customers are now being switched over to the new system, basically as we speak,” says Love.