They’re Grounded!

Our motto is “Power. People. Progress.” Under Progress, we asked ‘why not?’ and will be saving many hours of time.

Substations transform high voltage electricity to lower voltages powering homes and businesses. Time, and the coast’s moist salt air, degrades equipment, requiring extra maintenance, and potentially more frequent replacement.

Central Lincoln substation crew members working on the low side build of one of our substations
Journeymen Maintenance Wiremen Cory, Justin and James take a moment to celebrate this innovation.

Traditionally, building the “low side” of substations begins with a steel frame about 15 feet in the air. Then, journeymen who specialize in substation construction install aluminum “bus bar,” which conducts electricity; insulators; and switches. But working 15 feet from the ground is inefficient; substation workers must do installation from bucket trucks, wearing harnesses, working in tight clearances, having to frequently lower their buckets, move their truck, and then go back up in the bucket again, over and over.

Our substation foreman, Dave, mulled the process over. “I thought it would be more efficient if we all could be working on the low side at the same time, and not have to work from buckets,” he says. “What if we assembled the structure close to the ground, and then when much of the work was finished, hoist it into place?” The completed portion would weigh about 15,000 pounds. Some didn’t think lifting a structure that heavy would be possible.

And then Dave mentioned his brainstorm to Central Lincoln’s civil associate, Don. “He just showed up with a plan one day—I didn’t even know he was working on it!”

Don had calculated that with two trucks and a crane doing the lifting with proper equipment, the mostly-completed assembly could indeed be safely hoisted high, and bolted to the support legs below.

“I love it when a plan comes together!” General Manager Randy Grove says happily. “Dave’s idea was simple, yet ingenious, and I’m very pleased it went perfectly.”

It went so well, we’ll be using Dave’s method for many more substation builds and rebuilds. His idea means his crew’s work will be done even more safely, and it will be done much more quickly—saving about two weeks in labor for each low side build. Dave’s already planning. “The next one will go even better!” he says with a shy grin.

from our June 2019 issue of Coastlines