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.

Contractors placed the south line, otherwise known as LV-YT No. 2, back into service in May with brand new H-frames and a higher capacity conductor, or wire, along the rebuilt section, and work began on the northern line in June with the expectation to finish in September, ideally one month ahead of the project schedule.

Rebuilding one line at a time allows the other line to continue to deliver reliable power from Yellowtail Dam so customers won’t be impacted by the work.

Once Phase II is complete, the third and final phase will rebuild the sections of the line that cross the Crow Reservation, again about 16 miles for each line. The full project is expected to be complete in October 2014, and among other benefits, the higher capacity conductor will increase the power flow capability of the transmission lines from 225 to 300 megawatts. Once a transmission line reaches its “capacity” limit, it cannot carry additional power or energy without risking a power outage or other system failure. By adding more capacity, the line will have the flexibility to carry more power and reduce the need to purchase additional power that would need to travel on other transmission lines to get to customers.

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