Burbank looks to update aging electrical substations

Some of the electrical substations in Burbank are more than 60 years old, but an upcoming development project in the new Golden State District could help update the city's electrical infrastructure.

City Council members voted 4-0 on Tuesday to allow Burbank Water and Power to solicit design-build proposals to construct a new community substation at Winona Avenue and Ontario Street. Vice Mayor Will Rogers was absent that night.


The proposed Avion project is a 61.5-acre development on the so-called B-6 parcel next to Hollywood Burbank Airport expected to have a mix of industrial, office and retail uses and a 150-room hotel.

Because of the scale of the development, it was originally proposed to have its own substation to provide power to all of its buildings. However, Burbank Water and Power officials suggested to developer Overton More Properties that it could have a community substation that would also serve the surrounding area.

The developer agreed to the community substation and has agreed to pay a $6.44-million deposit for aid-in-construction costs, said Cesar Ancheta, acting assistant general manager for the utility.

Under the substation agreement the city has with Overton Moore, approval of the substation does not constitute approval of the development. Should the project not be approved by the City Council, Ancheta said the nonrefundable deposit would run with the land rather than with the project.

Ancheta said substations for large businesses, such as NBC Universal and Warner Bros., benefit only the companies and not the community. Though the businesses pay for the electricity, Ancheta said Burbank Water and Power has to pay to maintain the electrical system.

The community substation in the Golden State District would be a better alternative because not only would a project such as Avion receive the electricity it needs, but it also would eventually allow the city to decommission the existing Winona and Victory substations, which are 60 and 70 years old, respectively, over the 20-year span of the new electrical project, which will include updating the transmission lines — something that can take years to complete, Ancheta said.

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