Midwest Energy linemen from throughout the Colby district recently completed a new 8.5 mile long, 34.5 kV line along US-40 between the new Winona substation and the Wallace substation, rebuilding a key part of the company’s western transmission system that has presented problems for years.
“The old line was about 11 miles long, and went south for four miles before turning west and heading through seven miles along some pretty rugged private right-of-way, which was difficult to patrol [driving the length of a line to check for damage] during bad weather,” said Brian McKinney, Midwest’s Operations Manager for the Colby District. “The new route we selected basically runs right along US-40, will be more accessible for patrols, and is about 30% less line miles of exposure.”
Construction on the line, budgeted for $1 million but forecast to come in well under budget, began in March 2020. Nearly every lineman from throughout the Colby district – coming from Goodland, Sharon Springs, Colby, Oakley, Atwood and Hoxie – took turns framing, setting poles and stringing conductor for the new line. Construction was completed in early November, and the line was energized and put into service on November 11.
“This was truly a group effort,” McKinney said. “Every lineman and serviceman we have touched this project in some way – either directly, or by taking on work so other crews could come help.”
McKinney noted that earlier this year, Midwest Energy crews completed construction on a new substation at Winona, replacing an old wooden substation that also dated to the 1950s. McKinney said that with both projects finished, “it will greatly improve reliability in the area.” With the new line energized, linemen will work between other jobs to dismantle the old line through the remainder of 2020 and will return the pasture to its former state.