New substation will meet Forest needs

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County's supervisors gave a new American Electric Power (AEP) substation in the Forest area their unanimous approval.

Called the Coffee Substation, it will be located on an 11 acre site on Old Farm Road, near Coffee Road. An existing 138,000 volt transmission line, which George Clemo, an attorney representing AEP, said had been there since the 1920s, crosses one side of the parcel. The towers on this line are 115 feet tall.

According to Clemo, the area is currently served by three main substations. The power company projects that, by next summer, electrical demand will overload some of these circuits. Peak demand in this part of the country comes in the summer, Clemo noted.

"We need to reinforce the system to accommodate the growth in that area," he said.

The new substation will take some of the load off the existing three, decreasing the chance of blackouts. It also cuts the length of existing circuits in half. Clemo said that this reduces the number of people left without power if there is a problem. It also produces more switching opportunities to maintain service in the event of a problem.

Clemo said the substation will be buffered and screened, noting that only electrical engineers would find the transformers to be a thing of beauty. The project will cost $6 million and will be in service by June.

The supervisors also unanimously adopted a resolution of support for the county's Farm Tour. This year's Farm Tour is scheduled for Aug. 16 and is sponsored by the county, the tourism department, the agricultural council and the Virginia Cooperative Extension. According to County Administrator Kathleen Guzi, Johnson's Orchard and the Peaks of Otter Winery will be the host site for the tour.

Another item that received the supervisors' unanimous support was an authorization for county staff to work with the city of Bedford to form a joint City-County Sesquicentennial Committee.

"It does have a potential major tourism impact," said Guzi.

Sesquicentennial is a large word that means a 150th anniversary. The 2006 General Assembly created a state commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States with statewide events from 2011 through 2015. The state is encouraging localities to develop local committees to work with the state commission.

Guzi said that the Bedford Museum has done significant work on the Civil War. Cooperating with the state commission will get Bedford material on a state Web site.

Although most of the major events of the Civil War's eastern theater occurred in the northern and eastern part of the state, the Bedford area was deeply touched by the war. General David Hunter, commanding a federal force, passed through Bedford on his way to Lynchburg in an effort to seize that railroad hub. He passed through again, after his defeat by Confederate General Jubal Early, with Early hot on his tail. Bedford also took overflow from Lynchburg's military hospital and buildings were converted to house wounded soldiers. The building that now houses the Runk and Pratt facility, on East Main Street, was one of those. It was a boarding school when the war broke out.