Strained power grid halts Bethesda hospital plans

Wednesday - 8/31/2011, 8:10am EDT

Hundreds of millions of dollars in construction planned for the Bethesda Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is now on hold, The Washington Examiner reports.

The Defense Department must first spend another $37 million to expand the center's overloaded power grid, after a substation at the National Institutes of Health reached capacity.

That means it won't be able to power the improvements — totalling about $781 million — needed to meet BRAC requirements for revamping the site's medical services and accommodating the hundreds of new patients and workers.

Congress is waiting for a definitive answer from the Defense Department on whether the electricity issues at the substation could lead to brownouts or blackouts at the hospital.

Meanwhile, officials said building a better grid could take as long as two to three years, The Examiner reports.

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