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Hinton 'lights out' signals enhanced NIPCO upgrade

Monday, November 12, 2012

(Photo)
It was a matter of "lights out" for Hinton residents Sunday. The outage, however, wasn't due to a major storm but to insure added reliability for electrical power when severe storms do occur in the local area. Hinton and other locations in northwest Iowa are among areas targeted in a three-phrase service upgrade currently underway by Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) along a 151-mile portion of its 909-mile power network. Kent Pauling, executive vice president/general manager, NIPCO, explained crews turned off power to Hinton Sunday in preparation for the connection of switches from two segments of rebuilt transmission lines. The connection allows Hinton to receive NIPCO power for its own municipal-operated power plant which "feeds off" the NIPCO line. "What we were doing in this instance as with the project throughout the designated areas is basically taking out the old and putting in the new," Pauling said. He added it is part of the major transmission line overhaul responsible for the large assortment of needed replacement supplies presently seen in the contractors' storage area north of the Farmers Cooperative Company, Hinton. Similar temporary storage areas for the supplies have been located in the Alton and Ireton areas while the line replacement is underway. Hinton Mayor Gary Fischer said residents welcome NIPCO's efforts to provide still more reliability of its power supply to the local community. Fischer said, "NIPCO has always served us well. We see this project as one assuring us of an even better power supply with reduced chances of losing power should there be unforeseeable bad weather. "It's a matter for everyone of wanting to make sure the lights stay on. I see it as reliability and being able to weather a storm before it happens." Pauling said the overall $27 million northwest Iowa project is scheduled for completion in March 2014. It was initially made possible as result of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding of $24 million through federal and state allocations. Pauling said those dollars were included in FEMA monies designated to the state in the wake of Iowa's three 2008 natural disasters -- Little Sioux and Parkersburg tornados and Cedar Rapids floods. Pauling said the funding has allowed NIPCO "to accelerate" line upgrading. That includes installation of stronger poles, shortened line spans to alleviate ice problems, bigger conductors and additional "looped lines" in event of power disruption from one side or another of a line, Pauling said. He said the upgrade has been needed for some time. Pauling added that included among replacement poles is the pole first placed east of Hinton in 1953 during a special project placement ceremony. A short length of the pole as well as its initial installation tag is now in NIPCO's storage to be used as a future historical display. Coinciding with NIPCO's line project is a corresponding but separate FEMA funded distribution upgrade by NIPCO's retail company, Northwest REC. "We're doing all we can to coordinate this work successfully with our own transmission upgrade," Pauling said. Like Fischer, Pauling said the added reliability of the current projects offers a caveat, however. "What we've done and are doing will hopefully mean the dangers of possible future extensive wind and ice damage to the systems can be reduced," Pauling said. Pauling said it's still important to remember there's nothing to be done when Mother Nature decides to take out lines. "We have, however, looked for what we can do for the best cost-economics and cost-benefit possible for our project," he said. For the benefit of those interested in cost comparisons Pauling pointed out the difference between today's $27 million project and the one done in 1953. The initial per-mile cost of line installation in 1953, according to NIPCO archives, was $5,000 for a total project cost of $755,000 -- "not anywhere close" to today, Pauling said.
It was a matter of "lights out" for Hinton residents Sunday.

The outage, however, wasn't due to a major storm but to insure added reliability for electrical power when severe storms do occur in the local area.

Hinton and other locations in northwest Iowa are among areas targeted in a three-phrase service upgrade currently underway by Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) along a 151-mile portion of its 909-mile power network.

Kent Pauling, executive vice president/general manager, NIPCO, explained crews turned off power to Hinton Sunday in preparation for the connection of switches from two segments of rebuilt transmission lines.

The connection allows Hinton to receive NIPCO power for its own municipal-operated power plant which "feeds off" the NIPCO line.

"What we were doing in this instance as with the project throughout the designated areas is basically taking out the old and putting in the new," Pauling said.

He added it is part of the major transmission line overhaul responsible for the large assortment of needed replacement supplies presently seen in the contractors' storage area north of the Farmers Cooperative Company, Hinton.

Similar temporary storage areas for the supplies have been located in the Alton and Ireton areas while the line replacement is underway.

Hinton Mayor Gary Fischer said residents welcome NIPCO's efforts to provide still more reliability of its power supply to the local community.

Fischer said, "NIPCO has always served us well. We see this project as one assuring us of an even better power supply with reduced chances of losing power should there be unforeseeable bad weather.

"It's a matter for everyone of wanting to make sure the lights stay on. I see it as reliability and being able to weather a storm before it happens."

Pauling said the overall $27 million northwest Iowa project is scheduled for completion in March 2014.

It was initially made possible as result of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding of $24 million through federal and state allocations.

Pauling said those dollars were included in FEMA monies designated to the state in the wake of Iowa's three 2008 natural disasters -- Little Sioux and Parkersburg tornados and Cedar Rapids floods.

Pauling said the funding has allowed NIPCO "to accelerate" line upgrading.

That includes installation of stronger poles, shortened line spans to alleviate ice problems, bigger conductors and additional "looped lines" in event of power disruption from one side or another of a line, Pauling said.

He said the upgrade has been needed for some time.

Pauling added that included among replacement poles is the pole first placed east of Hinton in 1953 during a special project placement ceremony.

A short length of the pole as well as its initial installation tag is now in NIPCO's storage to be used as a future historical display.

Coinciding with NIPCO's line project is a corresponding but separate FEMA funded distribution upgrade by NIPCO's retail company, Northwest REC.

"We're doing all we can to coordinate this work successfully with our own transmission upgrade," Pauling said.

Like Fischer, Pauling said the added reliability of the current projects offers a caveat, however.

"What we've done and are doing will hopefully mean the dangers of possible future extensive wind and ice damage to the systems can be reduced," Pauling said.

Pauling said it's still important to remember there's nothing to be done when Mother Nature decides to take out lines.

"We have, however, looked for what we can do for the best cost-economics and cost-benefit possible for our project," he said.

For the benefit of those interested in cost comparisons Pauling pointed out the difference between today's $27 million project and the one done in 1953.

The initial per-mile cost of line installation in 1953, according to NIPCO archives, was $5,000 for a total project cost of $755,000 -- "not anywhere close" to today, Pauling said.



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