On Tuesday night, the Centralia City Council voted to approve the completion of the construction of the $2.5 million Salzer Substation with the total project amount being 8.7 percent over the original contract amount of $2.3 million.
There were a total of 10 change orders issued from the project’s start date on Nov. 25, 2019, and Sept. 4, 2020, when the project’s substantial completion was issued. A description of each change order was provided by Centralia City Light General Manager M.L. Norton for the council to review.
One of the change orders that was questioned by the council was “Change Order #4” which showed a $25,193.92 charge for the demobilization of construction due to COVID-19 in April of 2020 and the remobilization in May.
Norton said that construction was halted in an effort to keep the crews safe during the early days of the pandemic, and since it was the city’s decision to pause construction, the city must pay the associated costs.
“We chose to have them stop work for a month to square away those COVID response items and also to find a welding firm that could properly do the job that we needed them to do,” Norton said. “We did not want to expose our personnel to the possibility of getting COVID. If you recall in the early days of COVID, there were many, many questions about how it was transmitted and how long it would live on surfaces.”
Norton said time was needed to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions and put procedures in place to keep personnel safe. He also said that the figure of about $25,000 was a “pared down figure from what (the contractors) requested.”
The contractors completed the installation of the concrete foundation, the switchgear building, the transformer and other necessary items. The crew also drove 27 piles approximately 80 feet into bedrock to provide additional support for the earthquake-resistant substation.
“We still have some fine-tuning to do before the sub is brought to full power but the (contractor’s) role in building most of it is done,” Norton said on Tuesday.
Norton said that the date the Salzer Substation, named after the nearby Salzer Valley, will be energized is still uncertain as they wait for the delivery of a device that goes into the switchgear building.
In November 2019, the city council approved the bid award of $2.3 million dollars to the prime contractor Michels Power, Inc. Centralia City Light had planned for construction to be completed by the fall of 2020 but with interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the completion date was pushed out.
The Saltzer Substation will adopt the same earthquake resistant design as the recently updated Ford's Prairie Substation. The substation will also include earthquake resistant transmission lines. The substation will operate at 69,000 volts initially and be able to increase to 115,000.
The Salzer Substation would provide either primary or emergency supply to Providence Centralia Hospital as well as many areas in downtown Centralia including City Hall, Centralia Community College, the Centralia Emergency Operations Center, Centralia downtown business district, Riverside Fire Authority’s Pearl Street station, and three elementary schools. The substation will also be in a location that will allow it to provide power to the proposed Centralia Station project, which is expected to include a WinCo.