Central Maine Power, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, has begun upgrades to the utility’s Union Street Substation, which serves portions of downtown Portland, the Old Port, and the city’s East End.

“These upgrades will ensure reliability for area homes and businesses well into the future,” says CMP spokesperson Gail Rice. “The project will also give CMP Substations personnel state-of-the-art technology that will enable them to operate and maintain the facility with maximum efficiency.”

The Union Street Substation feeds power to a broad range of business and municipal customers, educational institutions, and tourist attractions. They include numerous banks and other financial institutions; several large hotels; a ferry terminal; the city’s wastewater treatment facility; Portland City Hall and Merrill Auditorium; the Portland Public Library; and numerous marine facilities, restaurants, and retail shops. It also serves the city’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood and the East End Community School.

The $12.6 million project involves replacement of outdated metal clad switchgear with new gas-insulated switchgear, which will ensure reliability for customers well into the foreseeable future. The utility will also install a new power transformer, modify the existing power transformers, upgrade electrical system controls and protection, and improve the underground power distribution network that serves the downtown area and the Old Port.

Like other new and upgraded facilities in CMP’s delivery network, the Union Street Substation will include the integration of IEC-61850 Protection and Control technology. This will provide a new level of operational awareness for the utility, opening the door for automation and predictive-based maintenance. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global leader in establishing international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The IEC-61850 standard applies to substation automation systems and defines the communication protocols among protection and control devices within the substation and related utility control and protection systems.

“Upgrading this facility will bring it up to 21st century standards without the disruption of siting and building a new facility,” says Rice. “Our municipal, business, and residential customers will be well served by these upgrades.”

The project is scheduled to be complete in May of 2014.