[caption id="attachment_225050" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Delaware Electric Cooperative has recently bought nine acres of land in Lewes to build a substation. It will be the 27th substation build, after the Doresy Substation seen here that is under construction. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DEC[/caption]
LEWES — As membership continues to grow strong, the Delaware Electric Cooperative(DEC) has plans to build a multi-million dollar substation in the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area.The DEC bought 9 acres of land on Cedar Grove Road for $1 million on July 18, according to Sussex County property records. Purchasing the land is the first step in the electric cooperative’s plan to build a substation that would connect to an existing Delmarva Power transmission line nearby.“Once operational, the substation on Cedar Grove Road will help to further support DEC’s mission of providing reliable power to its members,” DEC President and CEO Greg Starheim said in email. “In 2021, DEC had a record year — our most reliable year yet. This investment will ensure continued reliability for members in eastern Sussex County.” The new substation would support a 69 volt transmission line. DEC Public Relations and Community Outreach Manager Lauren Irby said the estimated cost has not been finalized, but similar substations cost around $3.5 million.Headquartered in Greenwood, DEC is a member-owned electric cooperative that serves in Kent and Sussex Counties, primarily in once-rural areas. To date, it powers more than 110,000 homes, farms and businesses between both countries. Last year alone, the DEC added 4,114 new members. By August 2022, the co-op added 2,615 new members surrounding the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area. The new substation, marking DEC’s 27th substation, will primarily serve those new members as well as ensuring reliable power in eastern Sussex County.Faced with significant member growth in the last two years alone, the DEC announced seven utility-scale solar projects earlier this year that will be complete by the end of 2024. Construction will be complete on a Hartly solar farm this year. Ten acres of solar panels at Lockwood Chapel Road will generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 260 homes.This year, DEC and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative will start construction on a 4.5 megawatt solar facility that will power 900 homes in Sussex County. Another 35 acre facility is being built just west of Greenwood - and when it’s complete it will feature 16,000 solar panels.The DEC will purchase energy produced at a solar farm to be built in Ocean View. A separate agreement has been signed to buy energy from four new solar facilities to be built near Clayton, Harrington, Felton and Milford next year.