Dilworth is not thrilled with how Duke Energy will be expanding its ugly substation

Dilworth is not thrilled with how Duke Energy will be expanding its ugly substation
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Duke Energy will soon be doubling the size of the prominent electricity substation in Dilworth — but the neighborhood is worried that the power company isn’t doing enough to make it less of an eyesore.

The project will formally kick off in fall 2018 with site preparation and landscaping, with construction slated for 2019. But the company has already taken steps toward the expansion, demolishing or moving several houses next to the substation on Hemlock Street.

There’s no way around it: The substation as it is today is ugly and highly visible. The sidewalks surrounding it are of poor quality, and there’s lots of loose gravel, tangled underbrush and unsightly steel.

The two main questions Dilworth residents have: Why expand here? And how will Duke make things look nicer?

As to the first question, Duke Energy says that it’s most efficient to put more substation infrastructure in places where the energy is needed, and Dilworth and nearby South End have boomed in recent years. Plus, Duke already has all the transmission connections in place here.

The second question is a little less clear.

Duke’s plans are to put in a screening wall around the perimeter of the substation, replacing the current chain-link fence. The company will also use large canopy trees and dense evergreens, and plans to fix up the sidewalks.

Duke Energy also points out how volunteers were able to put in a community garden on their property next to the substation.

But there have still been no renderings released that give a hint at what the finished product will look like. There’s only been this site plan.

Duke says there could be a rendering developed as soon as January.

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