It Takes a Substation

It''s just a local story to be sure, but a New York Times article today does a nice job of describing what it take to build an electrical substation in a modern megacity. Conventionally substations''the transformer and switching arrays where transmission voltage is stepped down for district distribution''are just surrounded behind barbed wire in what otherwise might be vacant lots, easily recognizable by their large ceramic insulators. But in New York City''s South Bronx, Con Ed''s latest station is housed in a nice brick building with fake windows, which might easily be mistaken for a fancy condo. Built at a cost of $300 million, the substation has a number of green elements such a grated vaults that allow for natural circulation and placement of huge tanks containing insulating liquid in motes, to contain any leakage. Seamless 10-inch steel pipes, which are not something bought off the shelf, sheathe the cables that enough current ''to power a small Caribbean country.''

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