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New year, new FE

By Senior Airman Monica Roybal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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The 733rd Civil Engineer Division is in the early phases of the Main Substation Repair Project, which will rejuvenate Fort Eustis’ electrical infrastructure, enabling optimal installation energy consumption and facilitating renewable energy resources in the future. 

Members assigned to the 733rd CED partnered with Dominion Energy representatives to enact the multi-million dollar project to install an additional transformer and upgrade the main substation, which has been in place since 1966. The upgrades will drastically decrease the frequency and duration of power outages, especially during hurricane season and peak summer season when the installation is more vulnerable to outages. 

“All of the power outages we have are related to the main substation, which is the heart of the base,” said Richard E. Martin Sr., 733rd CED energy utilities manager. “You can’t function without the heart and our substation is like a weak heart. If you have a weak heart, you have to fix it and get it healthy.”

Martin explained that preventative maintenance and component upgrades on the current substation are challenging since the unit is more than 50 years old.

“We have components and equipment that are pretty much obsolete because the substation is one-of-a-kind. It would take more than a year to get parts.” Martin continued. “We could possibly face having our substation down for 30 days or more simply due to the fact that replacement parts are not readily available. By upgrading to new, standardized components, we’ll be able to bring our substation up in 30 minutes or less.”

Martin said power outages on the installation can last from five to eight hours, and lead to an increased demand in manpower from Dominion Energy and contractors, as they must work diligently to restore power for the Fort Eustis community as quickly as possible. 

Additionally, revitalizing the electrical infrastructure will ultimately lead to renewable technology upgrades throughout the installation. Upon the project’s completion, the 733rd CED can begin microgrid implementations.

“The microgrids will create self-sustained energy clusters in the event of a power outage or an attack on our infrastructure,” Martin continued. “Microgrids will be a huge benefit to our installation’s readiness because it will allow us to create an island effect for multiple facilities to be powered. We will have continuous power and uphold our mission. We’re considering solar panels, wind turbines and batteries to use as main components for our microgrids.”

Martin, who has been the project lead since 2017, said that the upgrade from the archaic equipment will create mission stability, and boost the quality-of-life, health and safety for Soldiers and their families. 

“Leading this project is rewarding because I know that this will ultimately protect Fort Eustis,” Martin said.

The 733rd CED and Dominion Energy are to begin construction in fall of this year; they estimate completion in 2023.


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