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All systems go for Tanner station

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NORTH BEND - The gentle hum coming from Alm Way in North Bend is music to Elmer Sams' ears

Sams, general manager of the Tanner Electric Cooperative, knows that the hum is the sound of a finely tuned new substation that has been in the works for six years for the small electric company.

"I can't think of anything more American than a cooperative," Sams said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the substation on Tuesday, Feb. 19. "Back when 34 people wanted electricity, but couldn't get it, they got together and formed Tanner Electric."

Harking back to the small-town origins seemed fitting, as Sams addressed and thanked everyone at the ceremony by name.

Sams pointed out all the bells and whistles on the $1.5 million substation to the crowd of 30, which included employees, customers and administrators. The substation has back-up systems for any disaster, ranging from an oil spill to bullet holes. Outside of a few minor quarks, the substation has been working smoothly since it came online Feb. 15.

The substation represents a mark of independence for Tanner, which until Feb. 15 had to use Puget Sound Energy equipment to get power. The new substation will allow Tanner to get its power directly from the Bonneville Power Administration, which as a wholesaler sells energy to both Tanner and Puget Sound Energy.

"It will make our lives easier," said Tanner Electric Lead Lineman Butch Harper. "If something goes down, we don't have to wait for Puget Sound Energy to come out."

The new substation also has room to grow and is seen as a long-term solution to whatever energy needs Tanner has. On the cold afternoon of the ceremony, the station was producing about 4,800 kilowatts. Engineers said that number can get up to 10,000 on winter mornings, which is fine since the station can handle up to 25,000 kilowatts.

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