Aurora – Trucks with orange bumpers were in abundance early last Wednesday morning, June 20 in Aurora. Nebraska Public Power District brought in crews from York, Kearney and the Humbolt area to begin final work on the fourth phase of a five-phase project to upgrade Aurora’s electric system.
When finished, NPPD’s Aurora Conversion Project will convert the entire community’s current 2.4/4.16 kilovolt electric system to a more powerful 7.2/12.5 kilovolt system. The project is being done to replace old, outdated equipment, increase system efficiency and meet the growing demand for electric energy in the area.
The 6 a.m. start Wednesday meant some businesses and residential customers were without power and had to rely on the sun (or wind-up alarm clocks) to wake them. Customers were notified of the outage beforehand, said NPPD’s local manager Bill Allen, and all customers from that planned outage had their power restored by 8 a.m.
“We’re replacing a lot of old equipment to improve reliability and meet increased load,” Allen said. “When it’s finished, this is going to be good for the community.”
The multi-million dollar project is expected to be completed by the end of this summer. “We’ve more or less finished up phase four,” said Mike Moser, a senior line technician for NPPD who has served as crew leader for the project. “We’re into phase five. It’s getting there.” Phase five is primarily the downtown area, indicated Dan Daly, a planner/scheduler for NPPD from Aurora.
“NPPD apologizes for any inconvenience to the community from the planned outages. People have been very understanding,” Allen said. The local manager, who has lived in Aurora since 1991, said he appreciates the cooperation people have shown. “This is a great community,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else.”
When completed, the final price tag for the project is estimated to be at approximately $4.5 million. After the conversion project is finished NPPD plans to retire Aurora’s downtown substation by end-of-summer 2012.