New substation brings improved service to Laguna Pueblo tribe in N.M.

Siting, securing the land rights, constructing and finally commissioning a new substation can sometimes be an arduous and, at times, even a contentious process. But, thankfully, that was not the case when Tri-State, member Continental Divide Electric Cooperative (Grants, N.M.) and the Laguna Pueblo Tribal Council worked together to improve electric service on their reservation.

Continental Divide’s board president, Keith Gottlieb (left) greets Richard Luarkie, Governor of Pueblo of Laguna tribal council at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new substation.

Continental Divide’s board president, Keith Gottlieb (left) greets Richard Luarkie, Governor of Pueblo of Laguna tribal council at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new substation.

The culmination of that cooperative spirit and hard work was celebrated recently (March 21) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the brand new Old Laguna Substation serving the nearby Native American village of Laguna, N.M.

The substation ceremony was hosted by Continental Divide Electric and attended by a crowd of about  50 people, including the Governor of the Pueblo and members of Laguna’s tribal council, Continental Divide’s general manager, board members and staff, Tri-State employees directly involved in the project and others who played a role in adding the new substation to the power supply system.

Attending the event on behalf of Tri-State was Rich Chamberlain, transmission program manager and project manager for the Old Laguna Substation endeavor, Kent Utley, who was the lead engineer for the project and Mike Montano, who is the transmission maintenance manager for Tri-State’s southern region.

Tri-State energized the new Old Laguna Substation (shown) on March 12. It serves a load of approximately 6 megawatts on the Laguna Pueblo reservation.

Tri-State energized the new Old Laguna Substation (shown) on March 12. It serves a load of approximately 6 megawatts on the Laguna Pueblo reservation.

“The entire project, which took a little over a year, essentially involved moving service from an old delivery point location to a new delivery point geographically situated to better serve the loads in the area,” explained Chamberlain. “One aspect of the project that helped us stay on schedule was the fact that Continental Divide’s staff has been proactive in maintaining good relations with the Laguna Pueblo Tribe and this relationship was a big help in our efforts to secure new land rights to build the new sub,” he said.

Chamberlain also noted that the success of this project involved a lot of people at Tri-State, including personnel from land rights and permitting, engineering, contracts, the legal department, maintenance and transmission construction services.” Joe Gallik, in the lands department led the negotiations with the Laguna Pueblo and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and his hard work played a major role in the project’s success,” added Chamberlain.

In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Continental Divide Electric’s general manager, Robert Castillo, said that, “Tri-State means what it says in its advertisements about being the ‘power behind your electric co-op’ and we credit in large part the success of this project with the strong partnership that we have with our power supplier.”

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