One ways and roundabouts: How Dawson PPD is strengthening its grid
Everyone’s favorite season is finally upon us – road construction. This time of year is known to delay trips to the store or cross country, but it’s necessary to keep traffic flowing smoothly now and well into the future.
When Dawson PPD considers its work plan, we also study the traffic of our electrical distribution system and how well electricity travels to its destination – your home, farm or business. By implementing more “roundabouts” than “one-way streets” in Dawson PPD’s distribution system, we’re better equipped to keep your lights on no matter the circumstance.
Dawson PPD currently has 15 sub-transmission line roundabouts, or loops, to direct the flow of electricity within its service territory. This means that electricity may travel by several roads, or sub-transmission lines, to reach its destination. It creates a stronger system and ensures that power is still available if another route is under construction.
The electrical distribution system can be broken down into four main power lines: transmission, sub-transmission, primary and secondary. Transmission lines are like the interstate system and carry high voltage electricity from the generator to substations. These substations step down the voltage to 69 kilovolts and pass the electricity on to sub-transmission lines, which can be compared to a highway. From there, the electricity enters a substation again where its voltage is stepped down. It merges on to the primary lines like the main streets in your community. Finally, the electricity arrives at the transformer, or driveway, outside of your building where the voltage is lowered one last time before entering your home.
“Dawson PPD has had many loops, or back feed, options available, but we were not able to fully utilize them until the sub-transmission power lines were upgraded to 69 kV,” said Cole Brodine, Manager of Engineering. “The purpose of the higher voltage reduces line loss and allows the transfer of more power to travel further.”
By 2023, Dawson PPD anticipates that it will complete its 69 kV construction, a plan that’s been 30 years in the making.
Part of the plan includes upgrading the village of Overton. Construction is currently underway to upgrade the village to 69 kV from its current system of 34.5 kV. This includes adding a sub-transmission line, or highway, and removing a substation. The anticipated completion date is June 2020. When the project is finished, Overton will have two loops to transport electricity to the community.
“If something catastrophic happens, Overton can be fed from another loop,” explained Brodine. “This gives us some options to help restore power quickly after an event.”
“We’re always evaluating the economic viability of creating new back feeds,” Brodine added. “We have other options to bring power to customers beyond the sub-transmission lines.”
Other options include Dawson PPD’s load management program. This option controls irrigation pumps to reduce the overall load, or traffic, on the electric grid in exchange for a discount to participating customers. Load management is a more cost effective approach than building loops, however both are necessary to keep Dawson PPD’s system strong and reliable.