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Alabama Power enhancing infrastructure in Selma

For the past few weeks, Alabama Power crews have been visible throughout downtown Selma as they work to convert substations and install automated devices as part of a statewide effort to strengthen service.

“As a company, we’re making a big push to automate and advance our distribution services,” said George Dobbins, Alabama Power Distribution Manager for West Operations. “It’s just really investing our distribution systems and improving our resiliency.”

Where substation work is concerned, the company is upgrading voltage from 4 kilovolts (KV) to 12 KV and adding a third power feed in the downtown area.

“For the Selma area, we made a decision strategically that it would be a good idea to convert the whole area to 12 KV,” Dobbins said. “When we do so, it will give us a little more flexibility.”

Part of the work of changing out transformers has caused a handful of scheduled outages, but Dobbins said the company has worked with local businesses being affected to ensure that the outages take place during times that best fit the needs of business owners and locals.

“It is an added benefit in the distribution system,” Dobbins said. “We’re always looking at ways to improve our systems, find ways to give it added resiliency. By converting, we’re able to go from two sources feed into the area to three sources.”

Along with the conversion, Dobbins said the company has been installing automated devices that will allow the power system to automatically detect an outage and switch systems in order to restore power to as many customers as possible.

“I would anticipate this work would give us the added flexibility where, if we had an outage, we’d be able to switch a fair amount of customers back on,” Dobbins said.

In all, the company is adding 12 such devices in Selma.

“Some of them are already there,” Dobbins said. “It just gives us additional flexibility.”

Aside from cleanup work, Dobbins expects the upgrades to be finished in two weeks.

“We’ve been working them hand-in-hand,” Dobbins said. “I would anticipate by the end of March we’ll have all the devices commissioned and the conversion complete.”

For Alabama Power Community Relations Manager Aubrey Carter, the moves represent another step in ensuring that customers receive service they can rely on.

“Customer satisfaction is very important,” Carter said. “Having a resilient system is part of that customer satisfaction…This is a tremendous project [and] I think it positions Selma well for growth in our downtown area, it really positions Selma well for future opportunities.”