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Glendon Street resident questions siting of planned electric substation

Paul Whalen stands at the gate in the picket fence that defines his side yard on Glendon Street extension. He has asked the town to find an alternative location for the proposed power substation that will fill the area under the power lines within the chain link fencing situated between his home and the Glendon Street parking lot alongside Foss Field. The previous substation at that location was removed in 2009. (Photo by Elissa Paquette) (click for larger version)
August 24, 2018
WOLFEBORO — Design and engineering for the reconstruction of Wolfeboro's sole power supply route from the Tuftonboro/Wolfeboro town line to the former Substation #1 site by the Glendon Street parking lot– referred to as the 390 Line — was approved by voters and completed in 2017. As preparations commence, Glendon Street resident Paul Whalen has raised a red flag on whether rebuilding a substation at the former site is in the best interest of the community.

At the Aug. 15 selectmen's meeting, Whalen shared photographs of the Glendon Street extension in October 2008 and the same area this summer to illustrate the changes that have taken place in the intervening years. The Bridge Falls Path has become an increasingly popular pedestrian route parallel to the Glendon Street Parking Lot, where additional space is now provided for boat trailers and cars.

"I dare say that there are few addresses in town that see the diverse activity that I do – the road, the path, the bay...cars, buses, boats, trailers, campers, walkers, joggers, bikers...the young, the elderly.. families, groups, individuals, dogs, ducks... and, at all times of the day and night," said Whalen, as he questioned "the optics and impact of installing a power substation central to a revitalized, vibrant recreational, visitor and parking area."

Whalen passed along a brochure outlining his position. He complimented Municipal Electric Department head Barry Muccio for running an "impeccable department," but he predicted an increasing economic reliance on tourism and visitors using the Glendon Street area and pointed to health problems associated with power transmission networks from Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), noise, safety hazards and an adverse effect on property values.

He urged the town to consider innovative solutions to rebuilding a power substation in the spot originally established in 1965 when the neighborhood was more industrial. (Lehner Street was formerly called Factory Street.) Single family homes have given way to apartments. Density is increasing.

Muccio responded briefly to Whalen's presentation at the invitation of the board, with the understanding that he came primarily to listen. He said he would review the comments and prepare a more formal response to bring to the board in the weeks ahead, but he took the opportunity to clarify a few points. He noted that the signs on the fencing say High Voltage, but the operation is actually considered Medium Voltage, which modifies the EMR and EMF concerns.

As for Whalen's suggestion that less power usage is predicted from the grid, Muccio said the town experienced its highest peak demand ever this past July, and there is still load growth going on.

The design calls for rebuilding a power substation within the fenced area beside Whalen's home and adjacent to the Glendon St. parking lot and the Bridge Falls path. Muccio spoke of the possibility of having to add two more circuits down through town if the substation were to be located at a further distance.

"We want power close to our load," he added.

Muccio suggested the possibility of creating buffers around the Glendon Street power substation site, which might include structural walls. He also noted that the new transformers are much quieter than the older versions.

The discussion concluded in anticipation of a future public hearing in consideration of Whalen's request with more detailed information on the 390 Line design and Wolfeboro's energy infrastructure needs.

Garnett Hill
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Garnett Hill
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