Switching Station Spare Transformer—New Jersey

February–May, 2020

Riggs Distler was contracted to assemble a new 345/230kV transformer at the largest gas-insulated substation operating in North America. The new transformer will be used as backup in the event of a failure in the current service transformer, improving the reliability of electrical service for all businesses and end users within the client’s service territory. 

Substation work included:

  • Drain and relocate current MEPPI transformer.
  • Dress out 3-phase spare 345/230kV transformer.
  • Installation and modification of an H-Frame.
  • Installation of new strain bus.
  • Modification to equipment relay racks in the 345kV control house.
  • Installation of grounding, conduits, power/control cables, fiber-optic cables, lighting and all other associated electrical work.

Transmission work included:

  • Permanently remove multiple spans of bundled conductor, OPGW, and static wire from over top of existing substation bus.
  • Remove 1 existing double circuit dead-end monopole and reframe the top two sections of another existing monopole.
  • Jack, frame, and set a new monopole on a foundation.
  • Reconfigure & reinstall multiple spans of bundled conductor, OPGW, and static to support the new transformer.

Challenges Overcome

In order to minimize service disruptions to our client’s customers, work on the new transformer needed to occur within short and specific outage windows. As a result, setting and adhering to a schedule for the work was a primary concern for Riggs Distler, and our team worked closely with our client to ensure that work proceeded quickly and efficiently within the available outage periods. 

Perhaps the greatest challenge faced on this project was its location in a hot spot for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worker safety is always one of Riggs Distler’s paramount concerns, but it took on new meaning as the novel disease spread throughout the region. Our team incorporated guidelines for “social distancing” into our work plan, making every effort to provide the safest workplace possible for our employees and staff on-site at the switching station. 

Since the MEPPI representative was based out-of-state, the outbreak prohibited them from traveling to New Jersey to assist with the installation. Luckily, Riggs Distler’s team already possessed extensive knowledge of how to assemble the MEPPI transformer safely and efficiently. Our expertise allowed the project to proceed, even without the MEPPI representative on-site.   

Riggs Distler’s turnkey approach enabled us to provide the full suite of necessary services for the transformer replacement in-house, greatly expediting the communication and coordination necessary to ensure that all work was completed within the tight schedule for completion. Our substation, transmission, and scaffolding workers were able to closely collaborate, identify any potential issues that might affect the project’s progress, and pre-plan strategies to surmount them. 

Results Delivered

The new transformer strengthened the reliability of the host utility’s entire electrical system and provided an extra measure of service security for both the client and their customers. This project showcased the superior knowledge of our staff, as their expertise allowed Riggs Distler’s management team to foresee potential obstacles to project progress and mitigate them before they became problems. Our work provided an essential service to our client and their customers, and our extensive presence in the region enabled us to field a dynamic team capable of rising to any challenge—even the COVID-19 outbreak.