All hands on deck

Johnson City substation conversion required teamwork and precision

To our members, a substation conversion may only seem to take a few days. But in reality, it requires years of preparation and work by multiple crews. PEC’s recent conversion at the Johnson City Substation was no different.

Substations are fenced or walled-in properties housing large electric equipment. They play an integral part in delivering your electricity. They take the high-voltage power created by generators and a transformer to lower the voltage so it can be safely distributed to our members.

The Johnson City Substation consists of two transformers. Over 200 lineworkers from every district pitched in to bring the T-2 transformer’s voltage capacity from 7,200 to 14,400 volts. T-1 will be completed in October. This is an important upgrade that will enhance our system’s reliability without spending extra money on heavier equipment.

Years of preparation

The job took just three days during the week of March 11-14 and two days on March 26 and 27, but the heavy lifting to prepare took nearly eight years. Journeyworker Tyler Horn and Marble Falls Regional Operations Manager Ronnie Taylor explained that over the years, crews have changed out or performed extensive maintenance on poles, insulators, and other equipment to ensure we have the proper infrastructure to handle the increased voltage.

The primary district responsible for this conversion was Marble Falls. And while they may be the team most familiar with the area, the other districts didn’t come in blind.

“During the conversion meeting beforehand, every district’s team lead received preparation materials and maps and had an opportunity to look at the area, speak with members, and get necessary gate codes,” Horn said.

Performing a conversion can’t be done on energized equipment, which means planned outages were scheduled. Part of PEC’s planning process included communicating with impacted members to ensure they were also prepared.

Taylor expressed his appreciation to the members for understanding the situation and allowing crews to come onto their property to perform their duties.

Solid backup

To ensure members stayed online as long as possible, PEC contracted the addition of four on-site generators capable of supplying up to 3.4 MVA of electricity.

“Due to the size of the feeder, we brought in these generators to keep two-thirds of our line energized while we converted the other third,” Horn said.

The conversion

Crews began work on the JC20 side of the substation in the early hours of Tuesday, March 12, and finished on Thursday, March 14. Work on the JC10 side took two days between March 26 and 27. Conversion of the substation’s T-1 transformer is planned for early October. Lineworkers from all districts were sprawled out across Blanco County, and work took about five hours each day to complete.

“This has all been about teamwork,” Horn said. “If it weren’t for PEC being able to work together, this wouldn’t move as swiftly.”

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