The Fort Payne Improvement Authority (FPIA) is your local public power provider and has been for almost 80 years. In 1940, the citizens of Fort Payne voted to establish the FPIA. Since that time, FPIA has been growing and changing to meet the electrical needs of Fort Payne and the surrounding community.
The Vision statement for FPIA and their 29 employees states the Authority exists, “To provide the electrical infrastructure and service necessary to sustain and improve the quality of life for the residents of Fort Payne and the surrounding community”. General Manager, Mike Shirey says, “This statement drives the activities and action of everything we do at FPIA”.
For example, over the past year FPIA has been working with their engineering consultant, Patterson and Dewar, to complete a system study of the power system supplying the Fort Payne community. The study identified needed system improvements based on the demand for power and projected growth. Actions are currently underway on two system improvements: upgrading to an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and the construction of a new substation serving a portion of downtown Fort Payne and the south-end of the FPIA system and portions of Lookout Mountain.
The AMI system will automate existing manual processes, reduce operational costs, improve data quality and equip FPIA with the flexibility needed to move into the future. AMI will help manage the supply and demand for electricity, and provide the customer near real time access to power usage data. Without AMI, most electric bills simply provide consumers with a rate and total usage. In contrast, most telephone companies offer customers online access to itemized bills, which include the number of calls made, the time, date and duration of every call, the names and numbers of the people that were called, and the tariff used for each call. AMI provides utility companies the opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and consumer confidence by providing this same level of detail on the customer’s energy usage. Over the next year, FPIA will be changing out the current metering system, and anticipates to be operational with the new AMI system in early 2020.
The new substation has been an item of discussion for several years at FPIA. Currently, downtown Fort Payne is served primarily from the District 46-kV substation located between 1st and 3rd Street SE in Fort Payne. The District Station also serves a major part of Lookout Mountain extending to the Dogtown community. This station is 60 years old and, although very dependable, an alternative option for serving a portion of this station’s load is needed. In addition, the current system configuration provides only limited possibility for economic development in the south end of Fort Payne. Working with Patterson and Dewar and the Tennessee Valley Authority, FPIA has obtained approval to add the Davis Gap substation in the area near where Lebanon Road intersects with Highway 11. This new station will alleviate some of the loading concerns of the District Station and will provide additional power resources to support any future growth in the area. FPIA has purchased property for the new station, and early planning is underway. The new Davis Gap substation is tentatively scheduled to be operational in the spring of 2022.
As your local public power provider, FPIA is constantly looking for ways to improve and provide the best possible service to the citizens of Fort Payne and the surrounding community. FPIA has an eye on the future as we strive to fulfill our vision and mission of service to the community.