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Austin Energy making progress on Rainey Street substation to meet power demand in downtown area

The Rainey Street project is part of Austin Energy's "Repowering Downtown" initiative, which will add to electrical distribution capacity.

AUSTIN, Texas — The growth in Downtown Austin shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Austin Energy is working to meet the power demand in the area.

The energy company's Rainey Street Substation is closer to completion. Crews are completing structural work and installing new transformers and transmission poles.

"We realized that if we didn't look ahead and provide for added infrastructure, that we were going to be in a situation where Downtown Austin would be susceptible perhaps to more blackouts or a deficiency in energy," said Matt Mitchell, a spokesperson for Austin Energy.

The Rainey Street project is part of Austin Energy's "Repowering Downtown" initiative.

"This is going to allow us to have greater flexibility in how we provide reliable energy to our customers down there, plan for the future, refurbish the Breckenridge substation, and just continue to supply reliable power to a very essential part of Austin," Mitchell said.

The new Rainey Street Substation will support downtown energy needs and allow the Brackenridge substation to be taken offline for construction. The more than 40-year-old Brackenridge substation will be rebuilt, and the transmission lines will be upgraded.

Once the project is completed, the Rainey Street Substation will be the third in the downtown area.

Council Member Kathie Tovo represents District 9, which covers Downtown Austin. She said this new substation is essential because it will provide reliability. 

"As Austin grows and changes, we are welcoming many more residents to just about every part of the city," Tovo said. "And we need to make sure that we have the services in place to meet their needs and where they are."

Tovo said although there isn't a need yet, this project anticipates what's coming.

"You don't want to be in the position of starting on a substation at the point where you need it. You really have to anticipate that demand and get out in front of it. And with downtown especially, so much of that growth has happened really, really fast and especially in the Rainey area," Tovo said.

The Rainey Street Substation is expected to be up and running by summer 2023. 

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