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Jack County Switchyards Keep Power Flowing in Texas

Brazos Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Brazos) is the largest and oldest generation and transmission cooperative in Texas and desired to provide reliable electricity with low emissions to serve growing demand for Brazos’ customers in 68 counties across the Lone Star State. Brazos initially constructed Unit 1 of its new Jack County 620 MW Power Plant and doubled output and capacity a few years later with a new 620 MW Unit 2 expansion. Brazos asked ESC to design and provide project management for the construction of a new 138 kV switchyard to connect output from Unit 1 to the transmission grid, which was followed by a request to design a new 345 kV switchyard that would transfer generated power from Unit 2 to a new adjacent 345 kV switchyard owned by Oncor Electrical Delivery Company.

Problem

ESC had to make certain that switchyard materials delivery and construction work coincided with the Unit 1 and 2 energization roll-outs. Both construction phases for the Plant were completed ahead of schedule so ESC was asked to expedite project timelines for the switchyards. Brazos’ 345 kV switchyard was also built in conjunction with Oncor’s interconnecting 345kV switchyard and ESC was tasked with providing project oversight to ensure that design, construction schedules and materials procurement were in sync with the Plant’s Unit 1 and 2 schedules as well as for the three switchyards.

Approach

Focused project management was a crucial component in scheduling and monitoring project tasks for each switchyard to ensure synchronization with the Plant’s two construction phases and Oncor’s new switchyard. Identifying and controlling critical path issues and accommodating a multitude of milestones for each stakeholder involved constant communication with all parties and juggling numerous phasing priorities and agendas.

Result

While the switchyard projects were multi-faceted and entailed extensive coordination between multiple utility companies and the Plant, both yards were completed ahead of schedule and under budget with no significant design, materials, or construction issues. The projects were considered to be very successful and provided examples of well designed, coordinated, and managed efforts to deliver sound switchyards. The two Jack County Switchyards have operated seamlessly since energization and have required no additional modifications or upgrades.