Work completed on Gulf Power’s largest grid construction project
At 8:54 a.m. recently, the crackle of the energized transmission line could be heard near the top of the transmission structure. A voice on the two-way radio said, “It’s hot to you, Paul.”
Paul Wyrosdick, line specialist with Transmission Construction, pumped his fist as a new 230-kV line in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties was energized.
The energized line marked the completion of Gulf Power’s largest construction grid program in company history. Since 2008, 12 projects were planned and constructed to improve reliability and ensure voltage stability so that Gulf Power can supply power to its customers now and for the future.
“It’s tremendous that it’s finally completed,” Wyrosdick said. “Sometimes we were working 11 to 14 hours a day, sometimes six days a week. I can’t thank David Gallman and Darrel Shatterly enough for all their help.”
It’s been a long, often winding and sometimes swampy project over the last seven years.
The company spent more than $180 million on the transmission projects that called for installing approximately 128 miles of new 230-kV transmission lines and upgrading several substations.
Wendell Smith, vice president of Power Delivery at Gulf Power, praised the Transmission team for their dedication and safety record with all of the miles driven, overtime required, right-of-way conditions and other challenges.
“You all have accomplished the largest Transmission expansion Gulf Power has ever undertaken,” he said. “The partnership and teamwork across Southern Company has been tremendous and you all are an amazing group.”
The partnerships for all of these projects were wide-ranging: SCS Transmission, Alabama Power Transmission, Distribution, Vegetation Management, Supply Chain, Customer Operations Budget & Business Controls, Environmental Affairs and all the line and substation contractors.
During the construction of two lines totaling approximately 120 miles in Holmes, Washington, and Bay counties — they used five 10-man crews at one point.
“It was a chore keeping them all coordinated,” Wyrosdick said. “All of the projects had their challenges.”
The Transmission line project that wrapped up the construction grid program was a microcosm of those challenges. Gulf Power built approximately 40 miles of new 230-kV line from the Pace area to the Alabama border with numerous concrete structures.
As the construction headed north, the lines and towers had to be engineered around 122 gopher tortoise holes with the assistance of Environmental Affairs.
In February, Gulf Power contracted with Haverfield, which uses its own linemen aboard a helicopter to pull wire 3.3 miles across water. The work included using barge equipment to get material to an island in the Escambia River, including 1,110 large rubber mats.
“This involved a huge amount of logistics,” Wyrosdick said. “It also was a narrow right-of-way so that added to the challenges.”
The construction project might be over, but the work of providing reliability is never done. Maintenance and upgrades will continue into the future.
Billy Ball, Chief Transmission officer for Southern Company, praised the Gulf Power group for their work.
“You have been a part of making history at Gulf Power and your work has already and will continue to provide improved service to all the Gulf Power customers,” he wrote. “I am very proud of you and your accomplishments!”
Gulf Power is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 447,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at MyGulfPower.com or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at GulfPowerNews.com.
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