Burlington-Wray transmission line project construction underway this month

Bigsandy[1]Following the recent authorization by the Tri-State board (March 3-4) to award the construction contract and purchase the optical ground wire for the 72-mile, 230-kilovolt Burlington-Wray Transmission Project in eastern Colorado, crews from Brink Constructors, Inc., (Rapid City, S.D.) have begun ramping up construction of this project that is slated for completion in May of 2016.

Among first steps that are now underway in the project is the transport of approximately $8 million in stored construction materials from Tri-State’s Sidney, Neb., warehouse to various staging sites along the project’s right-of-way path, according to Gary Mueller, senior engineer.

The new line, which will complete a 230-kV path between the existing Burlington and Wray substations, will provide many benefits in Tri-State’s ability to better serve existing and new loads in the area. Presently, Tri-State’s two 230-kV lines in the region are linked between Burlington and Wray substations by a lower voltage 115-kV line that restricts the association’s ability to fully utilize its 230-kV transmission system to dispatch its existing generation resources and serve its native load. The new line will help relieve that bottleneck and improve Tri-State’s ability to dispatch generation resources in eastern Colorado.

The new 230-kV Burlington-Wray line will also provide the needed capacity and infrastructure for the 150-megawatt Carousel Wind Farm that will begin construction this spring and begin commercial operation in 2016. Tri-State will purchase the entire output of this site near Burlington, Colo. When completed, the Carousel wind site will produce more than 600,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually, making it Tri-State’s largest wind power resource to date.

Tri-State also receives the output of the nearby 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower site, which was completed in 2010, as well as the 91-megawatt Colorado Highlands Wind site located near Fleming, Colo.

In addition to the new line construction, the project will also require upgrades at both the Burlington and Wray substations. “We will be installing a new line bay at Burlington Substation and a new ring bus will go in at the Wray Substation,” explained Craig Knoell, transmission project manager.

“Some of the work at the substations, as well as commissioning once the entire project is complete, will be conducted by Tri-State’s transmission construction services group,” said David “Buck” Buckridge, transmission construction services manager.

Construction will begin at the Burlington end of the line with three crews working their way north. “We anticipate about 25 to 30 construction personnel on site,” said Mueller.

First will be the digging crew excavating the holes for the structures. Next will be the framing crew to assemble the H-frame structures and finally a setting crew will erect, align and secure each of the transmission support structures.

“Our plan is to have most of the line’s 460 structures in place by the end of the year and then stringing operations will begin next winter,” explained the senior engineer.

The Tri-State project team added that barring any severe weather issues that might impede construction activities, they expect the line to be energized on schedule in the spring of 2016.

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