Powering up at Luther Forest

Fast development, changing processes increase energy demand at tech park

— Brobston said when Luther Forest was built it was assumed the entire, built-out park would use up to 400 megawatts, and planned a substation that would provide that power. But the substation is still not up to that capacity.

“The upgrades that National Grid had to make to make, that in reality are still being done today, they should be completed sometime next year,” Brobston said. “So with GlobalFoundries putting three plants in there, the substation will be at capacity.”

Looking to the future, Luther Forest has the capacity for several more facilities along with their ancillary buildings.

“We’re going to need to grow more power available to Luther Forest. That means doubling the size of the current substation to 800 megawatts,” said Brobston.

The $17 million substation was built with growth in mind. It is big enough, but does not have all the expensive equipment needed. That is only part of the equation, though.

“To expand the substation, you need to bring more power to it,” said Brobston. “It’s not just the equipment, you also have to have the capacity and the lines.”

Power problems are off site

Power comes to the substation from the Mulberry Street substation owned by NYSEG in Mechanicville. The other feed came in from the west from a National Grid Substation at Exit 12 on I-87. There is a transmission corridor that brings power from Rotterdam that extends all the way to Spier Falls in Moreau, where the power is generated. Currently, that corridor has one 115,000-volt transmission line.

In Rennselear County there is a similar line that goes up into Washington County. That line feeds the Mulberry Street station in Mechanicville. That line is also 115,000 volts.

Brobston said the problem is there is only so much capacity on those lines.

“If you need 115,000 volts transmission quality of power for a big manufacturing facility like we do in Luther Forest, it needs big amounts of electricity and that’s the way to get it here,” he said.

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