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Kansas Power Lines Restored After Destructive Ice Storm

A harsh winter storm impacted the entire service territory of the Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. (AVEC) which provides electrical service to nine Kansas counties. Extensive damage occurred to the co-op’s aerial electrical utility plant due to excessive ice accumulation on overhead conductors, high winds, and broken tree limbs heavily loaded with ice. Immediately following the initial restoration of service, ESC conducted a field line evaluation to determine the corrective measures required to return aerial distribution lines to pre-storm conditions. ESC followed up this evaluation with design and project management for the actual restoration of the system, which was estimated at $50,000,000.

Problem

ESC faced three primary challenges for this massive project: the need to ramp up quickly with technically qualified employees and contractors who had experience and expertise in distribution-line design and construction, the requirement to work within a fixed project budget, and the stipulation to complete the entire project within an accelerated timeframe. Although FEMA allocated up to three years to rebuild and replace damaged lines, AVEC requested that all work be completed within a 26-month window from beginning to end of construction. The immense scope of work for this project was divided into 76 FEMA subprojects.

Approach

A rating system was developed to determine which pole units and equipment should be repaired or replaced. The latest GIS and Partner Software automated line-staking solution was utilized to assist with the field inspection, validate line design calculations, provide computerized staking sheets and integrated mapping for all line modifications and replacements, and inventory itemization and a list of materials required to repair or rebuild the distribution lines. What would have taken weeks under the existing warehouse system was reduced to days or even hours.

Result

The primary components for a successful project required a delicate balance of cost, speed, and quality. Because the time frame for completion was accelerated and budgetary costs were locked in, ESC paid particular attention to the quality aspects. ESC completed the project on budget, meeting the cost component of the project, and finished the work within the desired timeframe, meeting the client’s scheduling needs. The quality-assurance measures incorporated in the project provided the necessary controls to deliver the high standards required for the project.