With supply chain issues creating difficulties in obtaining critical infrastructure components, the transfer of various pieces of electrical equipment from EM to the City of Oak Ridge comes at an opportune time. You may have seen (or heard on our simulcast) a WBIR-TV report about a scarcity of electrical transformers for the rapidly-growing Hardin Valley area of Knox County, and how that is affecting the utility company serving the area’s ability to keep up with the increasing demand for power. It does not appear that will be a problem in Oak Ridge, however.
According to the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (EM) and its cleanup contractor UCOR, officials recently transferred two large transformers, six pad-mounted transformers, and more than 100 other electrical items at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) to the city, with more planned in the future. The equipment is no longer needed to support federal missions at the site and provides a significant benefit to the city, according to a press release.
“Supply chain issues are making access to this type of equipment challenging,” said Ardo Ba, electric director for the City of Oak Ridge. “Having access to this equipment, especially the transformers, is essential to the operation and maintenance of the electrical power distribution infrastructure servicing the site. The wait can be up to two to three years to purchase substation transformers.”
The release states that EM has been steadily transferring land and infrastructure at ETTP to support industrial redevelopment as part of its overall strategy to convert the former uranium enrichment plant into a multi-use industrial park. To date, EM has transferred 1,300 acres to the community with more slated this year.
EM and UCOR completed the core cleanup of ETTP in 2020, and as soil remediation projects are completed, more land becomes available for transfer to enable future industrial development. Much of the infrastructure at ETTP, such as emergency services, roads, electrical power, and water, has been transferred to the city to support the industrial park’s new future.
Previously, EM transferred six pole-mounted transformers. As workers wrap up removing numerous abandoned power poles at the site, EM will complete the transfer of more than 250 additional pole transformers.
“We are always looking to identify beneficial uses for excess materials whenever possible rather than disposing of them in landfills, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide this equipment to the city for its use,” Acting ETTP Portfolio Federal Project Director Morgan Carden said. “This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
UCOR says it also plans to transfer three bucket trucks and one line truck to the city later this year after completing the power pole removal project.