115 kV Pole Replacement Project

Service and reliability are critical to the McPherson BPU. The local utility strives to ensure reliable and safe service for all of its Customers. For this reason, the BPU is continually reinvesting in their infrastructure.

Last fall, the BPU contracted an independent company to inspect some of its older poles. With the help of a drone, this company discovered several concerns including pole top and cross arm deterioration of the structures on their high voltage 115 kV line. Many of which are the original structures in service that were installed in the early 70’s. The McPherson BPU’s 115 kV “loop” is integral to BPU’s power distribution as it includes feeds from Westar, with whom they share an interconnect agreement. A portion of the loop consists of 3 -115 kV tie lines from the East McPherson Sub to the Refinery Sub, Refinery Sub to Power Plant 2 and from Power Plant 2 to West McPherson.Considering the importance of these tie lines in their agreement with Westar, the decision was made to replace the original H-structures with galvanized steel H-structures. The decision was also made to replace the 65’ structures with 70’ structures to gain additional ground clearance.

Each structure replacement takes about two days to complete. It takes a coordinated effort between McPherson BPU and Westar as a line will have to be out of service the day the utility decides to replace it. Prep work begins the day before where the structure is assembled on the ground, and a 3’x9’ hole is dug where the structure will sit. On the day of the replacement, the tie line has to be switched out, and safety grounds applied on either side of the structure they are replacing. At this point, the work of lowering the phases and the statics, removing the top of the existing structure, setting and tamping the new structure, raising and reattaching the statics and the phases can be started and completed. After all the attachments are completed, and the old structure is cleared, the grounds can be removed, and the tie line can be put back in service.

The McPherson BPU has most of the equipment to do the work. However, an 80’ aerial lift, as well as an all-terrain high lift crane, had to be rented.