In the summer of 2016, The L.E. Myers Co. (L.E. Myers), a subsidiary of MYR Group Inc. (MYR Group), successfully constructed Appalachian Power’s Cloverdale-Lexington 36.5-mile reconductor project. Appalachian Power is a subsidiary of American Electric Power, or AEP.
The new double bundle, 500kV line begins at the Cloverdale substation (North Yard) in Botetourt County, Virginia and traverses northeast where it interconnects with Dominion Virginia Power’s transmission network in Lexington, Virginia.
This project enabled the energized circuit to increase from three thousand amps to four thousand amps to better serve the energy needs of the region.
Two years before the project broke ground, line experts from L.E. Myers were enlisted to assist Appalachian Power and POWER Engineers with a constructability review of the project. L.E. Myers Construction Consultant Max Wiseman, a 49-year industry veteran, contributed valuable input that resulted in the addition of dead-end structures to the design .
L.E. Myers’ scope of work included the removal and installation of new hardware, conductor, foundations and lattice towers.
There were many challenges that had to be overcome during the construction of this project. Line workers, for example, executed several complex and critical crossings, including a 2800-ft span across the James River and a 24,000-ft pull up and over Purgatory Mountain.
“It was a pretty good chore going up and over that mountain but we made it and nobody got hurt, that was the main thing…everybody went home safe,” said L.E. Myers Superintendent Neal Watson.
Subsequent wire pulls over Interstate 81, Chesapeake & Ohio and Norfolk & Western rail corridors went off without a hitch.
Crews also had to remove seven 130-ft tall lattice towers that were originally erected in 1964, and reinforce the remaining 146 in order to accommodate higher tension associated with the new conductor. A majority of the tower reinforcing ‘kits’ were installed under energized conditions. During the process, line workers discovered several structural issues including a tangent tower that was buckled.
“Appalachian Power appreciated the quality of our inspections plus our recommendations on how to solve some of the issues,” said L.E. Myers Construction Manager for Large Projects Michael Comisford.
At every turn, MYR Group’s safety department proactively identified and mitigated potential hazards and established a professional relationship with Appalachian Power and field crews.
“At its peak, L.E. Myers employed upwards of 90 line workers on the project, most of whom were hired out of Local 317 in Huntington, WV. “ We had a good group assembled. Many of us worked together in the past,” noted Watson.
Rick Pieper, MYR Transmission Services Vice President of Large Projects said, “Our management team was fantastic – including District Manager Ken Schleh, Project Engineer Jason Schacht, General Foreman Robert Taylor, Construction Manager Michael Comisford and Superintendent Neal Watson. Their combined experience made this project a success.”
L.E. Myers has built a strong working relationship with AEP and Appalachian Power over the years. In fact, L.E. Myers built one of the first 345kV lines for AEP back in 1953. A similar level of synergy existed during the Cloverdale-Lexington project.
“They worked closely with us every step of the way. There was an open line of communication that existed right from the start,” said Comisford.
“This is probably one of the best examples I’ve seen in my career of a utility client and consultant working with a contractor,” added Pieper .