Bargersville plans upgrades to power lines along Whiteland Road

In the next few months, drivers on a busy Johnson County road can expect to see lane closures as crews replace about 4 miles of power lines.

Power lines that provide electricity to homes and businesses along Whiteland Road are set to be replaced this spring in an effort to help prevent outages and allow the town to provide energy to additional customers.

Bargersville and Johnson County REMC are working on a joint project to replace nearly 4 miles of power lines along Whiteland Road from State Road 135 to U.S. 31. The cost of the project, estimated at $700,000, will be split by the town and electric utility but will come out of the town’s savings and not result in rate increases. Bargersville’s electric utility serves about 3,600 customers in the town and in Whiteland. The project is the first step in planned improvements to the town’s electric services in coming years.

The need to replace the power lines is partially due to more development coming and partially the result of the age of the system, which would have needed to be replaced regardless, Bargersville town council member Ken Zumstein said. The poles and lines are nearly 50 years old, and officials are concerned about outages due to overworked lines, he said. Areas where the utility has been adding customers including the growing Millstone neighborhood in Whiteland, he said.

“The system is so old that it needs to be replaced, so we will be upgrading it at the same time,” he said.

While some of the work can be done without disrupting traffic, lane closures will be needed at times, including when the poles and electric lines are being replaced, Zumstein said.

Replacing the power lines is the first in a series of repairs and upgrades the town is preparing to make in coming years. Johnson County REMC is in the process of studying the town’s electric grid and working to identify spots to repair or upgrade, he said.

That study will be complete this summer, and work will begin on the electric system, which could last several years, Zumstein said.

Zumstein cited a power outage last week, where an overworked conductor went out, resulting in 970 customers — about a quarter of the utility’s customers — being without power for nearly two hours. Zumstein, whose home was one impacted by the outage, said what happened is an example of the types of situations the town hopes to avoid by upgrading its infrastructure.

No rate increases are planned to cover the cost of the repairs and upgrades. Any expenses will come from about $400,000 the town has set aside from electric bills or as part of the utility’s regular budget in coming years, Zumstein said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.