Pacific Power’s new substation latest piece in new electrical infrastructure

Work will begin soon on the substation, which will be located on the Apple property
Earlier this month, Pacific Power was granted approval to build a new substation near Apple’s new data center in Prineville.
   The upgrade represents the latest in several upgrades to the local electrical infrastructure that will substantially boost the power capacity for future businesses and community growth.
   Currently, Crook County awaits completion of an upgrade to the Ponderosa substation in northeast Powell Butte. It will substantially increase power capacity in the Prineville area, adding at least 120 more megawatts, an amount that would quadruple what all of Crook County consumed prior to the arrival of Facebook. The upgrade to the Ponderosa substation is scheduled to conclude in January.
   The new Apple substation will occupy approximately two acres on the southwest corner of the Apple property, adjacent to Baldwin Road. It joins another comparable substation built near the Facebook data center.
   Prineville Senior Planner Josh Smith said that both substations will help manage the electricity going to the two data centers and the rest of the community.
   “This is how they (Pacific Power) direct the power coming from Houston Lake substation (near Facebook) and the Ponderosa substation,” Smith said of the Apple substation. “And then they distribute it out from there and it will go to (the) Apple (data center) and then continue down the hill into Prineville.”
   Local government and business leaders initially pushed for the upgrade to provide enough electrical capacity to successfully recruit additional data centers.
   “To have that capacity available for Prineville and Crook County could lead us in a lot of different directions,” said Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester. “Obviously, the data centers are huge users of power, so having a significant amount of megawatts is critical for us to continue to build out for the existing data centers. Also it would absolutely be a prerequisite for any additional data center companies that would like to site in Prineville.”
   Roger Lee, the executive director for Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), said the added capacity makes Prineville unique among other communities competing for businesses.
   “It is our understanding that that really puts Prineville in a situation that they are one of the best places in the country for the data center industry,” he said. “It is huge additional capacity. I would say there are few places in the country that have that kind of capacity available.”
   Although the emergence of data centers in Prineville spawned the push for more capacity, the added power will benefit the community in other ways.
   “Other manufacturing facilities . . . would need a significant amount of power and having that power available is a good thing for other industries besides the data centers,” Forrester said.
   He added that the upgrades provide Prineville enough power capacity to support future growth.
   “It makes us stronger.”