Category: Transmission work

Colorado partnership garners $50K for successful landscape management

WCLC group photo

Group of volunteers learning about the ecosystem in Western Colorado. (Photo courtesy of the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative)

Working together, federal and state agencies, local governments, environmental groups, public stakeholders and local utilities are improving wildlife habitats in Western Colorado’s natural spaces while reducing fire danger that threatens the landscapes and power lines.

 Western is one of the partners of the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative, which garnered the prestigious 2013 Colorado Collaboration Award and a $50,000 prize to further the non-profit’s efforts.

“The ecosystems in Western Colorado are under attack from disease, drought and wildfires, and those are higher-level problems than just one entity can deal with,” said Western’s Rocky Mountain Special Programs Manager Ron Turley. “[The collaborative partnership] is a sign of the times in natural resources management. Natural resource managers realize that issues like these goes beyond their jurisdictions and require partnerships with other government entities and the public. A broader landscape perspective and collaborative effort was the only way to get it done.”

The Colorado Collaboration Award is a prize offered each year by a group of foundations and corporate funders to an outstanding nonprofit collaboration. The award will be officially presented at Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Fall Conference & Exhibition in Denver Oct. 7.

“We’re proud and excited to have been selected as the winner of the Colorado Collaboration Award,” said Pam Motley, Director of Uncompahgre/Com, which manages the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative. “This prize will help us continue major initiatives such as the Escalante Forest Restoration Project.”

Read more on Western’s website.

Lovell-to-Yellowtail project checks halfway point

Lovell-to-Yellowtail Phase II

A contractor works on an H-frame structure along the Lovell-to-Yellowtail No. 1 transmission line, or LV-YT No. 1, June 26, 2013. (Photo by Ryan Sharp)

Construction work on the two Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines, which run between Lovell, Wyo., and Yellowtail Dam, Mont., continues to progress according to schedule.

The dual 94-mile, 115-kilovolt lines that carry power from Yellowtail Dam in Montana are undergoing a badly needed rebuild as many of their components can trace their origins to their construction in 1956 and 1966 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  

“Many of the existing poles are in immediate need of replacement,” said Rocky Mountain Project Manager Travis Anderson.

The project is in the middle of the second phase, which includes rebuilding about 16 miles of each line that run both north and south of the National Park Service Big Horn National Recreation Area and Crow Reservation. Read more »

Ramping up reliability in the Southwest

After the September 2011 large-scale power outage in southwestern Arizona and southern California, evaluations and reports of the incident stated both Western and Arizona Public Service needed to provide additional voltage support to the region in a very short timeframe. To meet the recommendations, Western and APS combined resourCapacitor banks at Kofa Substationces to install three, 15 megavar capacitors banks at the Kofa Substation. This project will provide voltage support to the Parker-Davis 161-kV system, which will support the heavy load growth in the Yuma, Ariz., area, as well as the Southwest Power Link transfers. The kicker of the project was that it had to be accelerated so it was completed before the heavy summer loads.

Through the partnership, Western provided the design and procured equipment to aid in the construction of the project and APS provided the contractor (Wilson Construction Company), procured additional equipment and installed the equipment with Western’s construction oversight.

The project was completed safely and on schedule thanks to the hard work and dedication from Western, APS and Wilson Construction. “Our thanks to all those that participated for their combined efforts and willingness to work together to ensure the reality of this project in such a short timeframe,” said Mike Garcia, a Desert Southwest engineering project manager.

Meeting Western’s commitment to provide additional voltage stability to the region before the heavier summer energy demand in 2013 ensures critical voltage control going forward.

Marking our lines – ‘Send in the chopper’

The South Dakota Capital Journal published a photo and video today, July 10, showing contractors working from a helicopter to replace line indicators (balls) on a  stretch of Western’s transmission line in the local area.

The indicators warn low-flying aircraft that the line is there.

Contractor works on a transmission line from a helicopter

Contractor adds line indicators to a transmission line in South Dakota from a helicopter. (Photo/video by Capital Journal)

ED5 project completes major milestone

The Transmission Infrastructure Program Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub project in Arizona’s Pinal and Maricopa counties reached a major

ED5 project map

Completion of the 22-mile segment between ED5 and Test Track substations represents nearly half of the new and upgraded line construction needed to complete the project.

construction milestone recently with the completion of 22 miles of new 230-kilovolt transmission lines between ED-5 substation and Test Track substation.

The new segment of transmission line represents half of all new construction and line upgrades required for the project, which will increase transmission capacity to deliver renewable energy, primarily solar, to consumers in Arizona, southern Nevada and southern California.

Construction was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, saving Western and the project proponent money and keeping the project on track for early 2015 energization.

The next step in the project is to expand Test Track substation to accomodate the increased transmission capacity. At the same time, the other half of transmission line upgrades will continue through early 2014.

Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild Phase 2 update

Insulation is being used to isolate the wire in the air from the equipment on the ground, as part of Phase II of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild project, March 26, 2013

Contractors continue rebuilding two 115-kilovolt transmission lines as part of Phase II of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail project. With work in the Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area complete in fall 2012, the construction contractor started removing the No. 2 line south of the NRA in Wyoming, March 25, 2013.

Crews have about 10 miles of the No. 2 line down and are working on setting new structures in cultivated fields before irrigation of farm land begins.

While crews work on the No. 2 line, the Lovell-to-Yellowtail No. 1 transmission line continues to deliver power from Yellowtail Dam.

The upgrades to the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines No. 1 and 2 are needed to replace the original lines built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1956 and 1966.

You can see more photos of the project’s construction on Flickr.

When ‘zero’ is the best you can do!

Two people hold a framed safety vest

Acting Administrator Anita Decker, left, accepts a safety vest from Maintenance Manager Will Schnyer, Feb. 20, at the RMEL workshop. The vest is signed by all the Western employees who helped restore power in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in late October 2012.

We want 100 percent efficiency and 100 percent reliability at Western; but the one category we always want to see zeros in is accidents and injuries.

Safety is part of the job, planning and culture at Western. From senior and direct managers to office and field workers, employees know how important it is for everyone to go home at the end of the day.

The long days Western crews put in helping with the restoration efforts in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy were no exception. “All together our guys worked more than 18,500 hours in the 10 days we were out there,” said Will Schnyer, a maintenance manager out of Montrose, Colo. “That’s like one person working 40 hours a week for almost 9 years! And our crews did it without a single accident or injury.”

To celebrate the success, all 91 Western employees who responded to the call after Hurricane Sandy signed a safety vest. Schnyer presented the vest to Western’s Acting Administrator Anita Decker at RMEL’s “Electric Utility Emergency Response—Hurricane Sandy and Beyond” workshop, Feb. 20, 2013.

“We appreciate all the support we received while we went to restore the power system in New Jersey,” said Schnyer. “Our success is really marked by our safe working record. We are really proud of that record and of our team.”

“I’m honored to be recognized by the Hurricane Sandy responders,” said Decker, “but I’m truly most proud of what it represents in regard to the collective safety of each and every person involved.”

How do you recognize your employees’ safety efforts or achievements?

Construction work starts on ED5-PVH Project

3 employees work in a trench on substation footer

Employees with Tri-Technic Inc. prepare footer for an ED-5 Substation retaining wall, Feb. 11, 2013.

Construction work started on a project that will connect renewable energy south of Phoenix, Ariz., to a major trading hub. This is the first major construction step for the Electrical District No. 5 – Palo Verde Hub Project.

“It’s great to see that construction work has started on this important project,” said ED5-PVH Project Manager Todd Rhoades. “Hurricane Sandy and the recent northeast blackouts really highlight how important our energy infrastructure is to our everyday lives. This project is an investment in improving our system in the desert southwest area.”

Western awarded the construction contracts in fall 2012. These projects are being funded through Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program.

What benefits do you see from projects like ED5-PVH in support of the utility industry?

EMF: How close is too close?

E.M.F. Three little letters that strike terror into many hearts, but why?

EMF testing

Donna Shay, a Colorado citizen, asked Western to conduct an electric and magnetic field reading at her cabin that sits just outside a 115-kilovolt transmission line’s right-of-way. EMF readings determined about 1 milliGauss of exposure near her front door.

Mostly, it’s because we don’t understand electric and magnetic fields, or EMF.

The truth is people come into contact with these fields every day. EMFs occur naturally, like the magnetic field caused by currents deep inside Earth’s molten core. Manmade fields are also created by common appliances and equipment we depend on every day, like talking on a cell phone or heating up lunch in a microwave.

At Western, our high-voltage transmission lines and substations give off EMF, which sometimes concerns landowners with lines over and near their property. To help allay concerns, Western’s electrical engineers will test landowners’ EMF exposures from our transmission lines on request. Read more »

Substation to add reliability, better service to grid

South of Parker Dam near Parker, Ariz., sits the beginning phase of a new switchyard, just north of the  existing 161 kV tap.

With the lines shoo flied around the new site, construction began with grading the site, erecting the perimeter fence and placing the foundation for equipment and the new control building.

Completing this switchyard will convert the existing 161-kV tap to a more reliable configuration that will provide better service to both Western and its customers.  Using pre-payment funding the substation is expected to be completed and energized by December 2013.