CEC celebrates completed Copeland Road Substation 

Published 8:14 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

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A recent surge in demand prompted Community Electric Cooperative to do something it hasn’t in about 30 years: Adding a new substation to its distribution system.

Company leaders were joined by local, regional and state officials to celebrate the addition of CEC’s new Copeland Substation Tuesday, March 28, at 400 Copeland Road. The company’s last new substation was the Shadyside Substation near Southampton High School, which went online around 1993.

After Vice Board Chair Michael Faulk kicked off the ceremony, CEC President and Chief Executive Officer Steven A. Harmon Harmon explained the need for the substation. 

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“From 2005 until about 2020, over a 15 year period, our annual growth rate was about 1.5% on average, each year,” Harmon said. “Something happened in 2020, and since then, we’ve had an annual growth rate of 4½ to 5%.”

He said they are seeing a lot of growth among their membership and demand for electricity.

“If you think about what’s happening and what caught the energy transformation, you’re seeing the influx of electric vehicles, you’re seeing a lot of growth as far as apartments, homes being built and businesses locating in Suffolk, and specifically this portion in Suffolk,” Harmon said. “We see an increase in demand, and if we’re going to be fulfilling our mission statement, the way that we strive to do, then we’re going to have the capacity and the reliability to make those things happen.”

During the ceremony, CEC Board Chair Jeannette Everett thanked the the company’s team and the collaborators who were a part of the project. 

“On behalf of the Community Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, I sincerely thank team CEC and our many partners and vendors for their tremendous effort involved in engineering, procurement and construction of this fabulous substation,” Everett said. “While this substation may not seem like a big deal to many, it certainly is to our members and to us. These types of accomplishments are significant and should be appropriately celebrated.”

CEC Chief Operations Officer Johnathan Thompson, who was previously an engineer for CEC and involved with the early stages of this specific substation, said the substations most important aspects are “capacity and reliability” as well as “safety.” Likewise, he detailed how the substation also has the current technical updates.

“This substation is designed with the latest technology that’s available for substations,” Thompson said. “Nothing’s much has changed in these things for the past hundred years it seems like, but we’ve definitely added more technology to make things work more efficiently, more seamlessly and we look forward to having this on the ground and running for many years to come.”

Harmon explained how this will affect Suffolk citizens.

“In some parts of the country, you hear and see of rolling blackouts because of the lack of capacity,” Harmon said. “This station actually increases the capacity, so therefore, will increase the continuity of power and the reliability.”

Others attending the event included Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, Suffolk Councilman Timothy Johnson and Suffolk Public Works Director Robert Lewis.