Town to study future energy needs, costs

Growth might affect Front Royal’s ability to charge the lowest electricity rates in the state.

So the Department of Energy Services plans to look into how future development in key areas could affect electricity distribution and cost to the town and consumers. A 10-year-study should provide the town with a plan and cost for expanding the electrical system.

Town Council is expected to take action Monday to approve a $45,000 contact with Southeastern Consulting Engineers Inc. to study Front Royal’s electric power system. The study will cover a SynerGEE Electric Model, a system-coordination study and a 10-year load analysis. Council will have to amend the current budget to reflect the expense.

Town Manager Steve Burke said Friday that the consultant would develop a model of Front Royal’s electrical power distribution network.

The model would “facilitate an evaluation of the current system, anticipated future need and demand on the system so that we can better prepare a programmed plan of improvements and enhancements to our electric system,” Burke said.

The town could see increased residential and commercial growth in the future.

“With the projected development along Leach Run Parkway, north of Happy Creek and potential future development of the Avtex [Fibers] site, there will be increased electric demand within the town,” Burke said. “Director of Energy Services Joe Waltz] is trying to plan for that so that we will be able to meet that demand in the most cost-effective way when it is realized.”

The study should determine the extent of the demand on services and what infrastructure improvements the town would need to make to meet that demand, such as the installation of more substations and other needs, Burke said. The study also would determine how much such improvements would cost and the effect on rates.

“We’re trying to get a handle on what capital projects could be necessary to meet the future demand,” Burke said. “Every year we do include capital improvements in our electric budget and, again, if we’re able to get ahead of the improvements, our hope would be that we could accomplish those improvements within our current, capital funding.

“However, this will also give us the opportunity to evaluate if there’s any significant capital investment that would require us to evaluate how we would finance those improvements,” Burke added.

Also on Monday, council is expected to take action on a request to accept a $348,000 bid from Lance Construction Winchester as part of an ongoing project to renovate and construct office and warehouse space at the Department of Energy Services at 1100 Manassas Ave. The Department has, for the past two years, worked to consolidate offices and storage yard into a central location, Burke explained. The existing warehouse does not accommodate for some of the vehicles used by the department.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com