Big transformer moves in near Rochester

 

PINE ISLAND, Minn. — Energy companies work every day to make sure that you are not left in the dark.

CapX2020 is a project that aims to bring electrical reliability to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota.

11 different utility companies from around the region are teaming up for the projects that have already been completed in other parts of Minnesota.

Now the largest transformer as part of that project is being moved in place and it is a time consuming project. In fact, the process started more than a year ago.

“We dealt with different counties, different track owners, because it came by a rail, so trying to find a rail siding, trying to find a roadway that we could take it on that would allow for the weight that it is,” said Josh Horsch with Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul.

They had to bring the transformer that weighs more than half a million pounds in on a trailer that has nearly 200 wheels. So as you can imagine, there were some challenges.

“With all of the line lifting, we had to raise some utilities, move some signage and guard rails,” Horsch said.

Because of the size of the transformer, it could only be moved at night. It traveled by rail from Wisconsin to Randolph, Minnesota and then by trailer to Pine Island.

Once it arrived in Pine Island, crews had to park the transformer outside the substation and put it on a smaller trailer before offloading it onto a concrete patch inside the substation.

“They will actually take and move the two halves of their trailers away. Our crane will hook onto the main beam that is supporting it and take that off and then we will slide it from where it sits, we will actually back our trailer underneath it,” Horsch said.

Those with the project say all of this work is worth it. That is because it will help in the process of getting energy to your home.

“There’s a transformer here in the substation that will take the 345,000 volts down to 161,000 volts. These lower voltage transmission lines then go into the city of Rochester to reinforce the service to the surrounding area,” said Substation Engineer Dave Olson.

That means more consistency if problems spark.

“It goes back to reliability, we can operate the system more efficiently, more reliably, we have other components to fall back on should things elsewhere fail,” Olson said.

While the weather did slow things down a bit during the big move, Horsch said that the biggest hurdle with that is warming the equipment up. He said once things are ready to go, the process is just like any other day of work for them, just colder.

Crews expect the line to Rochester to have energy flowing through it by early May.

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