MYR Group Subsidiary Sturgeon Electric Completes 500kV Transmission Line Project for Bonneville Power Administration

January 13, 2016

Sturgeon Electric had the advantage of using some of the best (and biggest) fleet items in the business to get the job done.

Sturgeon Electric had the advantage of using some of the best (and biggest) fleet items in the business to get the job done.

MYR Group Inc. (MYR Group) subsidiary Sturgeon Electric Company, Inc. (Sturgeon Electric) successfully completed construction of the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line Project for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federally owned utility based in the Pacific Northwest.

The 38-mile, 500-kilovolt line, connecting the new Central Ferry Substation in Garfield County, Washington to the existing Lower Monumental Substation in Walla Walla County along the Snake River, is designed to carry more than 800 megawatts of renewable wind energy to BPA customers in southwest Washington and Oregon State.

“Specifically this project will add critical transmission grid capacity, support new transmission requests from generators in the Snake River area and be a welcome boost to local and regional economies,” said Richard Shaheen, BPA Vice President of Engineering and Technical Services.

In May 2014, Sturgeon Electric mobilized crews to the region to begin building roads, excavating sites, and assembling and erecting nearly 160, 100-foot tall lattice towers. The steel structures support triple bundle conductor, overhead ground wire and fiber optic communication cable.

To complete the project, crews had to overcome many challenges that were unique to the region.

A bird’s eye view of a pull site with the Snake River seen in the background.

A bird’s eye view of a pull site with the Snake River seen in the background.

In addition to the steep, rugged terrain, the Central Washington weather proved challenging: high winds, dust storms, and blistering heat. Sturgeon Electric Supervisor Brady Moore said his 75-member construction crew rose to the challenge. “The temperatures were in excess of 100 degrees for weeks on end and nobody fell out or got tired. They all came to work with a positive attitude and got the job done.”

There were also many environmental and landowner concerns to contend with during the course of the project. Sturgeon Electric Regional Vice President Mindie McIff said the team made it a priority to identify concerns by working closely with the client and reaching out to local businesses and residents where the work was being performed. “This allowed us to communicate important details about the project and to answer questions,” stated McIff. “We went to many community meetings. It involved a lot of education for us, but I’m happy to say we met the challenge of the very high standards that were set.”

A beautiful end to an otherwise brutally hot day in Central Washington.

A beautiful end to an otherwise brutally hot day in Central Washington.

At one point during construction, line workers came across pyramid-shaped cairns (mounds of stones intended to serve as a memorial or landmark) on the ROW. After carefully marking off the area, local Indian representatives were brought in to confirm the trail markers were neither culturally nor historically significant.

Local environmental compliance director Jeff Montgomery agreed. “What I found over 10 years working with Sturgeon Electric crews is that they will buy into the program,” Montgomery added. “They know the environmental concerns; they know the landowner concerns. If there was an issue on the ROW, they called me right away which helped all parties and helped the overall project.”

Helicopter pilot Morgan Lohman uses a ‘needle’ to pull lead line through one of the lattice towers.

Helicopter pilot Morgan Lohman uses a ‘needle’ to pull lead line through one of the lattice towers.

The project was completed ahead of schedule and on budget. Sturgeon Electric Assistant Project Manager Christopher Way says that speaks volumes about the Sturgeon Electric crews. “There were some very strict quality control, environmental and cultural requirements on this project, and the crews handled the challenge extremely well. BPA received a transmission line of the highest quality without any environmental or cultural issues, and to top it off, we delivered well ahead of schedule and on budget,” Way said.

Sturgeon Electric District Manager Michael Lambert agreed. “Overall, we executed well on this project, from pre-planning to construction,“ Lambert said. “I think our performance builds upon our reputation for delivering a quality product in a safe, timely manner.”

“I was very impressed with the quality of workmanship and attention to detail, particularly among the local workers we hired in Washington. They took a great deal of pride in what they were doing and it showed,” added Sturgeon Electric Assistant Project Manager Holly Dodge.

Project Details

Current and proposed power generation projects in the Snake River region, including several large wind farms, prompted BPA to build the line.

Current and proposed power generation projects in the Snake River region, including several large wind farms, prompted BPA to build the line.

Before pulling conductor, a Sturgeon Electric line worker switches out a single groove traveler for a three groove dolly.

Before pulling conductor, a Sturgeon Electric line worker switches out a single groove traveler for a three groove dolly.

Ranch owners along the line benefitted from new and/or improved access roads on their property, which also serve as fire breaks.

Ranch owners along the line benefited from new and/or improved access roads on their property, which also serve as fire breaks.