Xcel Energy Investing $530,000 to boost distribution grid in San Jacinto neighborhood

One of Amarillo's oldest neighborhoods will receive a $530,000 electrical makeover in the form of a voltage upgrade that Xcel Energy officials say will provide more capacity to the local system and make the grid more reliable.

The improvement area includes the historic San Jacinto neighborhood in a zone roughly bounded by Western Street on the west, McMasters/Georgia streets on the east, West Amarillo Boulevard to the north and Plains Boulevard to the south. Starting this year, substations, lines and transformers in this area will be upgraded to 15-kilovolt service, which is the standard distribution voltage in other parts of the city. Currently San Jacinto is served by a 4-kilovolt system that predates facilities in other area neighborhoods.

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. The San Jacinto upgrade is increasing the "electrical pressure" of the lines that serve the neighborhood.

"By upgrading the voltage, the lines will be capable of serving larger loads without concern of straining the system," said David Hudson, president - Xcel Energy Texas. "And by upgrading to a standard voltage, we have more options to tap adjoining 15-kilovolt neighborhoods in the event of outages. This, plus the fact that we have more replacement parts for a 15-kilovolt system, should speed restoration times."

Hudson pointed out that Xcel Energy is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and modernize the power grid, not just in Amarillo, but around the region. And a systematic upgrade of the older, lower-voltage distribution systems is a key part of that strategy.

"Our energy future in Xcel Energy's southwest region is dependent upon timely investments in the facilities that generate and deliver power to our customers," Hudson said. "The benefits of a project like the San Jacinto conversion will bring value to our customers for decades to come."

San Jacinto is one of Amarillo's oldest neighborhoods, and while parts on the substations and lines have been replaced over the years, the facilities serving this historic section of the city are essentially as old as the neighborhood itself.

Xcel Energy expects to launch additional conversion projects in more of the city's older neighborhoods over the next several years. 

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