Repowering Downtown Austin
Increasing Capacity for the 21st Century
For more than 70 years, the City of Austin’s electric utility has designed, constructed, and operated an exceptional, high-capacity downtown network. Within a compact footprint, the network takes power from transmission lines and decreases the voltage to deliver power safely to downtown buildings through an underground system.
Repowering Downtown Initiative
The rapid pace of development downtown has caused the electrical facility requirements needed for the near, and long-term, future to increase exponentially.
Upgraded electrical equipment and increased capacity supports reliable power in Downtown Austin. As a municipally owned utility covering the downtown area, Austin Energy is responsible for planning and construction to support growth in the City of Austin.
Austin Energy’s Repowering Downtown initiative involves a variety of upgrades, such as:
- Adding a 70MVA transformer to the Seaholm Substation.
- Adding a third substation to serve downtown, in the Rainey Street District – completed February 2023.
- A complete rebuild of the existing Brackenridge Substation- expected to be complete by the end of 2026.
- Upgrading network distribution feeder circuits.
Rainey Street Substation
Construction of the Rainey Street Substation was completed in February 2023.
The Downtown Austin Plan, adopted by the Austin City Council in 2012, identified the need for a new substation in the fast-growing Rainey Street District to serve this part of downtown and redevelopment along Waller Creek.
In 1999, Austin Energy acquired the property at 706-½ Lambie St. in the Rainey Street District with the intent of building a new substation when the time was right. Its location and proximity to the existing electrical and distribution network made it an ideal site to add capacity and use a previously unused property.
A Unique Design for the Rainey Neighborhood
The Rainey Street Substation is uniquely designed to complement and enhance the local character of the Rainey Neighborhood.
More than 600 Rainey Street neighbors helped select the name and design of the Rainey Street Substation over the course of three public meetings in 2018 and 2019. The community chose a modern design and expressed support to preserve four on-site heritage trees and enhance the streetscape with native landscaping, lighting, benches, trash cans, and electrical charging stations.
The completed project adds to the capacity of electrical resources in Austin — it also improves walkability, beautifies a previously unused parcel of land, and helps tie the property into the neighboring natural features such as Lady Bird Lake and Waller Creek.
The Rainey Street Substation Project included:
- Construction of the substation and surrounding landscaping.
- Construction of both underground and overhead power lines to tie the new substation to the downtown grid.
- Improved reliability through an increase in available downtown energy resources by 33%.
To assure that public desires for the project were understood and evaluated, Austin Energy has hosted an extensive public engagement process. Community engagement occurred in three phases and resulted in the design of the surrounding wall, streetscape, and landscaping.
- Read the comprehensive Downtown Substation Community Engagement Report (pdf)
- View the design presentation from the September 24, 2019 public meeting (pdf)
- View the construction presentation from the October 7, 2021 public meeting (pdf)
- Watch the video of the October 7, 2021 virtual public meeting (video)
- Vea el video de la reunión pública virtual del 7 de octubre de 2021 en español (video)
The new Rainey Street Substation will support downtown energy needs and allow the Brackenridge substation to be taken offline for construction. The more than 40-year-old Brackenridge substation will be rebuilt, to meet downtown Austin’s growing energy needs. Construction on this project is set to begin in late 2025.
Download these fact sheets:
- Repowering Downtown Austin Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Hoja de datos para la repotenciación centro de Austin (pdf)
- Email: Communications@austinenergy.com
- Phone: 512-972-8244