Battling springtime blizzards goes with the territory for Tri-State crews

Left to right: Noah Kenney, Gary Miller and Jack Fairbanks battle blizzard conditions at the Waverly Substation.

Left to right: Noah Kenney, Gary Miller and Jack Fairbanks battle blizzard conditions at the Waverly Substation.

This spring, winter’s arctic grip hung around just a little too long for most Coloradoans, but for Tri-State’s apparatus, substation and line crews tasked with a strict schedule for energizing the newly constructed Waverly Substation in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley in time for irrigation season, working in blizzard conditions and frigid temperatures sometimes just goes with the job and the territory.

During the final commissioning, testing and energization of the Waverly Substation between April 8 and April 11, the Pueblo, Colo.-based crews were slammed with blowing snow and near whiteout conditions. “But, we had coordinated with member San Luis Valley REC for a major planned outage of several hours and we needed to complete the substation work within that timeframe,” explained Gary Miller, line maintenance supervisor.

Jay Harshman, Pueblo substation supervisor, also noted, “Despite the adverse weather, our crews did a great job of coordinating the outage and necessary activities with all of the Tri-State entities, including San Luis Valley REC and all of the contractors involved. All the crews worked safely and efficiently to get the job done.”

Pueblo-based crews conduct apparatus performance testing prior to energization of the Waverly Substation.

Pueblo-based crews conduct apparatus performance testing prior to energization of the Waverly Substation.

Energizing the Waverly Substation was the culmination of a year-long project for Tri-State, which involved upgrading the Waverly Substation from a distribution substation to a switching station to provide a loop feed to member San Luis Valley REC for greater flexibility and reliability. “Under the new scenario, in the event of an outage, Tri-State will be able to serve the member’s load in the valley from either the Waverly or Ramon substations,” Miller explained.

The Plaza to Waverly project is a joint effort between Tri-State and San Luis Valley REC. The project also entails area line upgrades (from 69kV to 115kV) in the valley. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of this summer.

The Tri-State Waverly project personnel were: from the substation crew, Jack Fairbanks, Isaak Horvath, Lucas Mutschelknaus and Tom Toussaint. The apparatus crew members on site were Johnathan Hathaway and David Bird; the members of the line crew on the project were Gary Miller, Cody Hale, Noah Kenny, Reid Kelley, Rob Manweiler and Eric York.

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