By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Two major capital projects in Jefferson County have been targeted by officials from Tri-County Electric Cooperative, based in Mt. Vernon, for this calendar year.
Improvements are slated for the south circuit of Veterans substation and the Barva substation, according to an annual work plan approved by Tri-County's Board of Directors.
"Each year, a number of line rebuilding/improvement projects that will improve the reliability of the electric distribution system are selected and prioritized," explained Co-Op Manager Marcia Scott. "Some lines will be replaced because of age. Other lines may be replaced with larger conductor so they can be used as alternative feeds. Areas experiencing higher load growth may require larger conductor to keep the voltage within the proper levels. Also, substations and other equipment need to be upgraded."
Scott said since the electric utility industry is so capital intensive, much planning occurs before improvements to the electric distribution system are made. The Board reviewed and approved a four-year construction work plan that was prepared by an outside engineering firm. The employees of the cooperative's engineering and operations departments take the results from the work plan and combine it with their experience to determine the priority and timing of the improvements.
The South Circuit of Veterans Substation is located south of of the stop sign at Wells Bypass Road and Veterans Memorial Drive.
"This is a relatively new substation, but we are rebuilding a 1.75 mile line with a larger conductor to increase capacity and redundancy in the area south of Mt. Vernon," Scott explained. Redundancy is a term used by utility officials that allows the cooperative to have more than one feeder in case of an outage in another location. "It helps our restoration time," Scott said.
The estimated cost of this project is $160,000.
The Barva substation is located off Illinois 148 between Mt. Vernon and Waltonville. Plans are to replace the substation transformer with a larger transformer and regulators to upgrade the substation. "Basically, it's just an upgrade to that substation," Scott said. The old transformer will be reconditioned and kept as a spare substation transformer, she added. Estimated cost of this project is $425,000.
Scott said the goal is to have both projects completed by the end of the year.
Additionally, the cooperative will be changing out 600 utility poles that have failed testing.
"We test poles on a regular basis. We change out at least 600 poles per year on our system," Scott said. "We also regularly replace conductors. Obviously, as our system ages, we try to change out at least 25 miles of conductors per year. There are areas where conductors are older or where they have failed. Once again, this is a case of reliability. The goal of all of these system upgrades is to improve service reliability for the membership."