Aurora — After three years and successfully completing three (and almost four) phases of a five-phase project to upgrade the electric distribution system in Aurora, Nebraska Public Power District will begin the project’s final stage Feb. 27th. The multi-million dollar project was needed because the Aurora system was operating at close to or above capacity, and it will ensure the system’s long-term reliability in light of the potential for future load growth.
“This project was identified due to substation transformers being fully loaded and the system being, generally, old and unable to support in a reliable manner today’s growing electric energy demands,” said Mike Damon, distribution superintendent for NPPD.
The project entails a voltage conversion for the entire community, raising the voltage to a more powerful 12.5 kilovolts from its previous 4.16 kilovolt rating. The project has included installation of new power poles throughout the community, and about 80 percent of the pole-mounted distribution transformers in town have been changed out.
Phases 1 and 2 of the project focused on upgrades to the Aurora South Substation and the conversion of the southern part of Aurora, west to east, south of the railroad tracks. Phase 3 included an upgrade of the Aurora Northeast Substation and the area north of the railroad tracks along Highway 14 and along the north side of Highway 34, east to west. Phases 4 and 5 include conversion of the rest of Aurora and additional substation upgrades.
NPPD workers have also installed wildlife protectors and replaced insulators. In addition, crews are taking advantage of the work being done to perform regularly scheduled tree trimming, further enhancing the system’s reliability.
Thus far, the project cost has totaled about $3.1 million. When completed this summer, the final price tag is estimated to be at approximately $4.5 million. Finally, after the multi-phase conversion project is finished NPPD plans to retire the downtown substation by end-of-summer 2012.