Friday, September 1, 2017

Asheville Citizen Times Article and New Working Group Dates

Some dates for upcoming meetings have moved out as the substation design group works through details. The next meeting for the design group has moved from Wednesday Sept 6th to Wednesday Sept 13th. The larger stakeholder meeting moves out consequently and is generally targeted for the first week in October. Every effort is being made to set the stakeholder meeting two weeks in advance so residents can plan to attend. At the last meeting of the design group they worked on design details of a GIS substation. While progress continues, there isn't any new news to report that wasn't stated in the update published August 18th.

Joel Burgess from the Asheville Citizen Times spoke with Jason Walls from Duke Energy as well as Lynn Hall from our neighborhood and extracted some content from a prior blog post:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Update from Substation Design Work Group

Earlier this month, we reported the formation of a substation design work group. They are tasked with developing a mutually acceptable design for a substation Duke-Energy would like to locate on their newly acquired property along Clingman Ave between Patton and Hilliard Avenues.  The work group created development guidance criteria and produced multiple substation design scenarios. Duke-Energy has now completed feasibility studies of those scenarios and presented their conclusions to the work group stakeholders August 16.

Feasibility studies considered design scenarios using either Gas Insulated Substation (GIS) technology or Air Insulated Substation (AIS) technology. Ultimately, GIS design scenarios were concluded as the best choice. While GIS equipment is more costly, it requires less than half the development property resulting in a multitude of benefits that help accomplish scorecard goals. If you remember, the score card’s primary concern was to judge if the development would allow utilization and activation of the site’s perimeter; keep the transformer equipment out of site and invisible as possible, protect adjacent neighbors from consequential impacts and insure mutual community benefits in accordance with master development plans in place.

Achieving scorecard criteria with the smaller GIS footprint, makes it reasonable to house the equipment in a building walled off from sight and to locate the substation where it will have a lesser impact on adjacent neighbors. Generous landscape buffers beyond the central station are also possible.  It importantly allows gateway appropriate development of the excess property separate from the substation and could allow widening Clingman Ave from Patton to Hilliard Avenues lessening traffic congestion.

The Design work group plans further work focused on detailing GIS concept options such as exact substation placement and aesthetic details.  Future meeting dates are planned as follows and note they include a public information session.

 August 23: Evaluate and rank scenarios using scorecard
September 6: Finalize rankings and reach consensus
TBA week of September 18: Public neighborhood meeting.

For More Information:
Please join us at the upcoming WECAN board meeting September 7th held at Mountain Housing Opportunities on Merritt St. You are also welcome to email questions to Lynn Hall, We will continue to post updates on Nextdoor, Facebook and the WECAN Blog,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Information Update: Duke-Energy’s Proposed Substation in WECAN

Duke-Energy is working with representatives from WECAN, RADBA, SFB, Montford, the Haywood Street Congregation, several local developers, the Downtown Commission and the City of Asheville to develop a mutually acceptable design for a power substation at the corner of Patton and Clingman. At the first meetings of this working group, guidance criteria addressing site uses, neighborhood protections and aesthetics for the substation were articulated.
The Criteria was created to:
1) Ensure minimum impact on the neighbors adjacent to; and closest to, the site and,
2) Promote creative ways to hide the substation while supporting future growth and development both on and around the site.

A scorecard was created with six categories to compare and judge four development scenarios against the criteria and the neighborhood guiding principals:
  1. Prioritize planning that creates flexibility along the edges of the site so that future growth and development on the site independent of the substation can be activated and supported.
  2. Design and aesthetics to make the substation as invisible as possible.
  3. Technical constraints such as topography, cost and proximity to existing transmission line.
  4. Safety and security to limit health, fire and other potentially dangerous impacts.
  5. Construction impacts.
  6. Noise impacts from regular and temporary activities.
WECAN neighborhood representatives working to make a difference and bring forth the community voice are Recy Barnette, Joe Fioccola, Luke Perry and Pattiy Torno. Several other business and neighborhood constituents support them in opposition to the initially presented traditional open-air substation design. The Rankin Ave substation is an example of this design with the electrical infrastructure, chain link fence and razor wire in full view. Duke-Energy representative, Jason Walls acknowledges the proposed build site is a gateway location that must properly represent Asheville, the communities, RAD, etc. He and his management have publicly committed to consider necessary engineering technology and equipment alternatives to achieve project acceptance from their business and neighborhood stakeholders.
Proposed Upcoming Meetings (scheduling is subject to timely completion of work inputs): August 16: Duke-Energy will present the four proposals to the team.
August 23: Evaluate and rank scenarios using scorecard
September 6: Finalize rankings and reach consensus

TBA week of September 18: Public neighborhood meeting.
For More Information:
For questions, additional details or to receive future updates by email, send your request to Lynn Hall, We will continue to post updates on Nextdoor and the WECAN
August 8, 2017 

Friday, July 7, 2017


}DUKE PROPOSES A TRANSFORMER SUBSTATION AT PATTON & CLINGMAN (Former Hunter Volvo). They are also buying all adjoining property along Clingman to Hilliard

}Neighborhood input is essential to inform Duke of our needs, values and aspirations. Open-air substations like those on Desoto Street in West Asheville or Rankin behind the US Cellular Center are not acceptable designs

}Select WECAN Board members have joined a multi-functional development task force with representatives from Duke, City of Asheville and adjoining neighborhoods

}Receive Task Force updates by email if you request; email request to Detailed updates are also posted to this WECAN blog,

The city of Asheville is growing along with its power demand. Demand and aging infrastructure requires additional power be made available. Duke has looked at several sites on the west and south sides, but is most interested in developing a new facility at Patton and Clingman. WECAN board members are working with Duke and the city of Asheville to guide matters within our limitation. Both Duke and the City understand the importance of this site as a gateway to Asheville, WECAN and River Arts, but it will take dedicated effort of the WECAN neighborhood to encourage the right type of development should it go forward.  Please see detailed information and history on the WECAN blog.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Downtown Duke Substation Proposed for Patton & Clingman Ave

Neighborhood Update: Re: Proposed Duke-Energy substation at Patton and Clingman

Over the last four years Duke-Energy has tried to address Asheville’s growing energy needs. With the extensive growth in the last few years, especially in downtown, they have shown a need for a second substation to supplement and back up the fifty plus year old one on Rankin Avenue. They have since then acquired several properties including an option on a 3.5 acre site at 252 Patton Avenue (last housing Hunter Volvo.) For various reasons most of the other sites were not usable (Please see background detail below).  

Legally Duke is authorized by the state to provide energy for businesses and residents and has broad powers to achieve its mission. Legally residents and the city have little or no power to oppose Duke in its mission. However, a representative from Duke-Energy is working with a small group of stakeholders (city staff, community representatives, engineers) to explore options for mutual gain. Duke-Energy has invited the community to be part of this conversation. To keep the conversation productive, they have made the reasonable request to avoid involving the news media at this point.

The site under consideration is in the Central Business District and therefore has very few zoning restrictions but it is uniquely--and rarely for the CBD, adjacent to a residential zone. Some of the issues that have emerged are: best use of property, cost,  EMF(electro-magnetic field) health effects, maintenance access, noise and visual impacts, pedestrian safety, protection of immediate neighbors, reliability for the next 100 years, redundancy (to back up Rankin Avenue,) several neighborhood plans addressing a gateway for downtown, site security and traffic mitigation.

Initially, their first offering of a standard off-the-shelf substation (like one at 168 Clayton Road) was proposed to solve some of the concerns but did not effectively use the rest of the site and created more problems for the neighborhood.  The neighbors and the city staff prefer a smaller footprint for the substation and activation of the rest of the property for residential and commercial development.

The neighbors have acknowledged Duke’s need and are reluctant to kick the can down the road for some other neighborhood to deal with. They see the challenges and the opportunity for an innovative and creative solution that also benefits the neighborhood and the city. WECAN (West End Clingman Avenue Neighborhood) articulated principles that their community values: Equity and Diversity, Planning and Effective Land Use, Energy and Environment, Safe Home and Environment, Collaboration.

Importantly, Duke-Energy is listening and willing to work with the community for a win-win-win. Meanwhile, the city is in the process of writing an ordinance covering the buffering of utilities. The time frame is short. Construction needs to begin before the end of the year. The conversation continues with a smaller working group to explore alternate ideas for use of the space. The group from WECAN includes: Jessie Coleman, Joe Fioccola, Lynn Hall, Rachel Larson, Luke W Perry and Pattiy Torno. 

For more information, questions and concerns contact:

Additional Background Detail: 

Since August of 2014, Duke has purchased 3 sites for this purpose and has 1 under contract. Currently Duke owns the former Matthews Ford site at 319 Biltmore Ave, around 17 acres in Montford surrounding the Isaac Dickson Elementary School on Hill St, and 226 Hilliard Avenue across from the Hot Spot. Duke Energy is under contract to purchase another site at 252 Patton Avenue, the former Hunter Volvo site. This includes the approximately 3.5 combined acres owned by the Meeker family. Duke’s due diligence period ends at the end of July, but they would like to make a decision by mid June.

At each previous site there was pushback from the city of Asheville, affordable housing developers, social justice advocates, neighborhood groups and parent-teacher organizations who rallied against placement in their backyard, thus pushing Duke to continue their search for an appropriate location. 

Substation Details: 
According to Jason Walls, a spokesperson for Duke, the substation technology proposed is similar to a substation at 168 Clayton Rd.  

This type of substation is conventional outdoor air insulated substation. There are multiple other types of substations, including indoor and gas insulated, but Duke does not prefer this type. This substation would likely be both a transmission and distribution substation, meaning it would continue to transmit power to north Asheville and step down the voltage to the type of power that the downtown systems can use.  

Due to the slope of the Patton Avenue site, initial assessments would suggest that for Duke to have a level site, they would have to dig down 10-15 feet on the North end of the property. The initial layouts presented at an April 5th meeting covered about 300 x 215 sq feet. If the tallest part of the substation were placed in that dug out area, the two 50-60 feet high power poles would then be 40-50 feet above Patton Ave. The two transformers behind these would be 10-20 feet high. 

Current technology allows for substations to be buried underground, like under a parking deck or building, or placed within a standalone single story building.  The footprint for a GIS substation can be a fifth of the size of a conventional air insulated substation. Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) has been around for several decades and is commonly used in urban environments. However, the only example of this in Duke’s territory is in Chapel Hill, NC. Gas Insulated technology was used to replace an air-insulated substation in 2008, and was housed inside a building. The address for this substation appears to be 170 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, across from the Ronald MacDonald House.

August 2014
Duke purchased the old Matthews Ford site (~5.5 acres) at 319 Biltmore Avenue just north of Mission Hospital and adjacent to Lee Walker Heights for $5.3M. The proximity to a Housing Authority development again had the community up in arms. In addition, the City of Asheville would like to use some of this land to enlarge the mixed use/ mixed income redevelopment currently being planned for Lee Walker Heights public housing.

December 2014
Duke purchased ~ parcels totaling 16.93 acres in Montford, along Hill St for ~$5.4M and surrounding Isaac Dickson Elementary School.  There was enough community push back from parents at Isaac Dickson Elementary that this location is strongly opposed by the Mayor. Another media clip found here:

December 2014
Duke purchased the old Hayes & Lunsford property (1.79 acres) for ~$3M on the corner of Hilliard & Asheland at 226 Hilliard Ave.  In meetings stretching over 2 years with the South French Broad neighborhood, it was determined that a traditional substation could not fit on this parcel with sufficient buffers to the residential sections that surround it.

January 2017
Duke holds meeting at Fire Department Training Room. Focus on meeting was to not discuss specific sites but to step back and share common ideas for what folks wanted and didn’t want from a substation. Jason provided sticky notes and we were asked to each write down several ideas and put them on the wall. He cites the following as takeaway guiding principles:
-       Plan a long-term solution (50-100 years) to avoid having to build again.
-       Ensure safety for neighbors, community and employees.
-        Reduce noise impacts.
-        Mitigate visual impacts. (i.e., increased buffering, fewest poles, etc.)
-       Consider the best-use for a specific property and consider best use for specific properties (i.e., traffic, impacts on established neighborhoods, etc.). 
-       Ensure reliable electricity, with appropriate redundancy.
-       Lowest cost reasonable.

February 2017
Duke secures an option to purchase the recently vacated Hunter Volvo car dealership on the corner of Clingman & Patton (~ 3.47 acres).  There are three houses that Duke might like to also purchase on Knoxville Place.  So far these neighbors do not want to sell their houses, but also do not want to live with a substation as a neighbor.

March 8, 2017
Duke notifies (by email) members of the neighborhoods, city and chamber officials about the option to purchase on the Hunter Volvo Site. He reiterates that this decision was made from listening to feedback at the January meeting, following the guiding principles stated above.
April 5, 2017
Duke and the City of Asheville call a meeting @ City Hall. Jason informs us of the likelihood of this site being the final option, and 3 site layouts were included. He indicates that they have a 3rd party appraisal study showing there is no impact to nearby property values. The appraisal report was requested to be shared with neighbors. It has not yet been shared. A meeting was suggested to be had in May, as the deadline for the option to purchase was approaching in July.

June 7, 2017
WECAN Association host a meeting with Duke at the Haywood Street Congregation (297 Patton Ave) and invite additional surrounding neighbors, additional stakeholders from the River Arts District and Downtown associations, and representatives from Chamber of Commerce, City of Asheville, Isaac Dickson PTO, and Montford and South French Broad who have participated in the process over the last 2 years.  A revised layout is presented showing a single A-Frame construction, normally 50 feet high, placed 20 feet below Patton Ave, as the site needs to be evenly graded for all of the components. Decibel estimate explanations are shared as well. Nearest residence is approximately 100 feet from nearest components, which would experience around 50 decibels, similar to a "calm conversation". 

June 26th, 2017
Duke spokesperson Jason Walls requests additional meetings as the option to purchase deadline approaches.  It is held at the Aston Park Tennis Court meeting room at 5pm to 6:30pm. Duke invites individuals from an Oklahoma based company to discuss Gas Insulated Substation Technology, which could substantially reduce the footprint of the site and enable other buildings to be situated on the street front. Cathy Ball speaks on the changing nature of Patton Avenue under the current NC DOT Plans for realigning I-26 off of the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridge.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WECAN joins

Thanks to the efforts of our wonderful APD Community Resource Officer, Evan Coward, WECAN is one of several guinea pigs, in Asheville, for a private social media resource called  The hope is that will be an easy way for WECAN neighbors to stay in contact with each other, with our surrounding neighborhoods as well as a way for us to talk with the City of Asheville & the City of Asheville to let us know about events, road closures, planning initiatives, etc that may effect WECAN folks... please sign up if you want to.... not sure if you need to get invited to join... if you do, please send an email and you will get an invite! Thanks

Smokestack Repairs

Harold Whitley, of Western Waterproofing will be up high in the air over WECAN for the next several weeks, re-pointing the brick tile @ the top of the Ice House Smokestack.  Harold says we will be seeing a new copper cap to keep the snow out & a water seal that should help keep the Stack standing a good while longer.  If anyone has a few extra of the brick tile that was used to build this tower, Harold could use a few to fill in several "missing teeth" on the facade of the stack.