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Xcel Energy completes upgrades to Soncy Substation

Late in December, the company completed a $7.6 million upgrade to this key substation and the lines that take power from it, which allows the company to deliver more electricity to the area while improving the reliability of the system. (Courtesy: Xcel Energy)

When Xcel Energy’s Soncy Substation was built in 1962 at the intersection of what is now West Interstate 40 and Coulter Street, there was no Westgate Mall, no car dealerships or restaurants, not even an Interstate 40 to crowd the view.

Decades of sustained growth in what is now a regional hub for retail sales and medical services has led Xcel to upgrade the Soncy Substation, not only to keep pace with decades of change, but also to power more growth to come. Late in December, the company completed a $7.6 million upgrade to this key substation and the lines that take power from it, which allows the company to deliver more electricity to the area while improving the reliability of the system.

“Improving substations and power lines in Amarillo is vital to the city’s economic growth,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – Texas. “The Soncy project is one of many initiatives we’ve undertaken to update our system and prepare it for the growth we know is coming.”

The power grid in Amarillo is comprised of many substations, transformers, and hundreds of miles of transmission and distribution lines. Transmission lines transport electricity from nearby power plants into the city. Substations transform electricity to lower voltages and send it along distribution lines that are located up and down city streets and alleys.

Soncy Substation takes its name from a rural community that was a stop on the Rock Island Railroad in the early days of settlement. For decades, the facility was connected to a 69-kilovolt (69,000 volts) transmission system. As part of the improvement project, a new 115-kilovolt line was built to provide the power source for the Soncy Substation, improving the station’s capacity to deliver more electricity onto lower-voltage distribution lines that radiate from the facility.

Additionally, a new distribution feeder line has been added to relieve high loading on the existing lines, especially in the summer months.

The flow of electric current is measured in amps, which can be likened to water moving through pipes. Voltage is much like pressure in water pipes, and is what allows amps to flow over power lines. For the city’s growing retail and medical facilities, this means more electricity can flow to new stores and medical buildings without overloading the system. And in the event of outages, Xcel has more options to quickly reroute the power supply in order to restore customers in less time.

In addition to the Soncy upgrade, Xcel is planning other improvement projects in the Amarillo and Canyon area over the next five years that include:

  • An expansion of the Hillside Substation, which was built in 2012. Continued residential and commercial growth has already loaded Hillside to near capacity, and a new transformer and additional feeder lines will allow the station to serve new growth without overloading existing facilities
  • Voltage conversions in northeast Amarillo that will provide options to reroute power from one neighborhood to the next in the event of overloading or damage from storms.
  • Capacity upgrades to existing substations serving east and southeast Amarillo.
  • A relocation and upgrade of feeder lines that allows for the widening of Loop 335 in south Amarillo and paves the way for additional load growth in the Loop 335 corridor.
  • A new substation and feeder lines in the Preston West development in far southwest Amarillo to serve growing residential and commercial demand.
  • A new substation and feeder lines in the Hunsley Hills area in north Canyon to serve recent and planned residential expansion.

Also, last summer, a new substation called Outpost was completed on Bushland Road south of I-40 that is now the primary power source for Bushland. The substation serves three new feeder lines that deliver power into neighborhoods west of the city and a fourth line could be added as future growth demands it.

The investments are part of the company’s wider “Our Energy Future” initiative to strengthen and modernize electricity generating and delivery systems to enhance economic growth, job creation and quality of life in Texas and New Mexico.

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