In early July, the McPherson BPU embarked on the first phase of what will be, a three-phase project. This project would address the lights in and around Lakeside Park as well as how electricity is fed into the park.
“ We needed to make this investment for several reasons; the number one reason being public safety” stated, Lenny Swaim, Supervisor of BPU’s Electric Metering & Underground Assets.
Lenny explained that the park light assets were the last of McPherson’s “series circuit” street lights, which were original from 1930’s or 40’s. “These lights work similar to Christmas bulbs in that each of the lamps are daisy-chained to one another; If one would fail the whole circuit would go out. The BPU addressed this issue by using shunts which closed off the circuit; therefore allowing the others to stay lit. Each lamp required around 50 volts to operate therefore the whole system would require about 1,700-1,800 volts to operate,” stated Swaim.
The “series circuit” lighting system is so antiquated that they have not manufactured parts for them in over 20 years. The utility was able to get by with routine maintenance as they had some replacement parts on hand, however, when the bases of the poles started to deteriorate exposing wires, the BPU knew something had to be done. Phase one, which was completed July 27th, 2018, included replacing the twenty-six street fixtures that surround the park with LED lights. To get this done BPU crews had to install about 4,500 ft of pipe and wire. Now rather than requiring 1,700-1,800-volts the new lights will require 240-volts; making them much safer not to mention, less expensive since they consume about 1/3 of the energy the original lights used.
Phase two of the project will commence the week of August 1st, 2018. This project will require BPU crews to replace all the high voltage concrete series circuit poles inside the park with new LED versions. The new poles will line the City’s sidewalk which extends in and around the park providing a well lit path for residents to enjoy. These poles will resemble the original decorative antique fixtures; however, they will be more safe and efficient. At the completion of this phase, there will be thirty-one new lamps and 4,000 ft pipe/wire installed for underground service.
Phase three will condense multiple electric services into a central location and at the same time update the service to the requirements of the National Electric Code (NEC)-making it safer. In addition to adding new 200 amp service to the park’s band-shell and re-feeding electric to each of the park’s shelters, BPU crews will be adding a total of 6 receptacle pedestals with twenty-four 120-volt duplex receptacles and eight 50 amp, 240-volt receptacles appropriate for trailers. Updating the service to the park will increase the attractiveness of the venue for larger festivals/ events such as the Kansas Barn Sale, which will take place on October 6th. Target completion date for the project is October 1st, 2018.
The BPU would like to publically thank Wayne Burns and the McPherson Public Lands and Facilities Department for all of their assistance in helping to make these enhancements a reality!