Cooperative News

Voltage conversion improves electric service in Junction area

Amid far-flung meters, patchy radio contact and rocky roads, teamwork leads to success

On May 16, PEC crews completed a substation conversion in our Junction district. Members experienced a planned outage of about three hours as our teams upgraded 88 meters on a feeder out of our Friess Ranch substation.

This conversion was part of system-wide efforts to upgrade our infrastructure from a 7,200-volt (v) capacity to 14,400 v. This allows us to better serve you as our membership grows and demand on our electrical system increases. Substation conversions are massive undertakings and involve years of planning and coordination. This was no less true for our conversion in Junction, where undeveloped roads, dense brush, rough terrain and vast distances presented unique challenges.

Lineworker removes a step-down transformer.
During a conversion, power is interrupted and lineworkers remove a step-down transformer and increase the voltage to every transformer down the line, providing better reliability and more efficient distribution of electric power.

“What makes us different out here is the hundreds of miles of line, the territory, just knowing how to get places and access the meter,” PEC Electrical Distribution Designer Travis Brown said. “Our tenured lineworkers are very experienced figuring out how to work with absentee landowners with locked gates and areas with little to no radio contact.”

Many meters in our Junction district are agricultural, serving water wells and barns on sprawling ranches. Other difficult-to-access meters serve remote hunting cabins and exotic game ranches. Crews in the Junction area have seen everything in the line of duty, from herds of emu, buffalo and scimitar ibex to zebras and wildebeest.

“Wildebeest are the meanest,” Brown said. “They don’t back down. You just have to stay by the truck.”

On this conversion, our Junction lineworkers’ local expertise was supplemented by the knowledge and energy of crews from the rest of PEC’s service territory. Every PEC district responded to PEC District Operations Director Doug Haynes’ request for assistance, sending lineworkers to work hand-in-hand with their Junction colleagues to make the conversion a success.

“The other districts really stepped up to help us,” Haynes said. “It’s wonderful to see every district represented. It was important to us to keep this to just a few hours of outage time for our members, and we couldn’t have done it without their help.”

No matter the weather or season, we work all year to strengthen our system and better deliver the power you rely on. Read more about our ongoing reliability projects.

MarLea Chapman, Travis Brown, Doug Haynes, Tony Gauna and Kris DeSpain.
The Junction conversion was the result of years of planning and coordination. Staff from across PEC’s 8,100-square-mile service territory came together to complete the project. (Left to right) PEC Planning Manager MarLea Chapman, PEC Senior Electrical Distribution Designer Travis Brown, PEC Regional Operations Director Doug Haynes, PEC Equipment Operator Tony Gauna and PEC Lineworker Apprentice Kris DeSpain.