Reliability through mindful investments

Reliability through mindful investments

Maintaining a safe and reliable electric system requires a significant investment in terms of budgeted funding, a cross section of employees, proper engineering and operation plans, and equipment. It gives members peace-of-mind knowing Lake Country Power is “on top of it,” to build and maintain a safe and reliable system that’ll serve today’s membership and generations to come. 

Overall, this year’s total capital investment for engineering and operations is more than $5.3 million to help meet LCP’s mission – to deliver safe and reliable electric service for all members. These investments will be used for more than 27 improvement projects, pole replacements, aged OH (overhead) and UG (underground) line replacements, substation work, and relocating lines for better access and faster outage restoration.

“Some of the factors we look at are age of the line and poles, outage history of the line, number of members served, as well as load amps on the line,” said Jake Chrzanowski, senior electrical engineer. “We also look at which lines can be rerouted or fed differently to improve reliability for members and accessibility for crews.”

A significant amount of this year’s work will address aged lines, some of which date back to the 1940s. Thin lines don’t handle today’s electric load as well as it did when the early co-op pioneers first strung thin copper wires to electrify the countryside. In fact, aged lines account for nearly 15 percent of all outages.   

Today, before any lines are replaced, it must meet at least one of the following sets of criteria as established by Lake Country Power’s engineering department:

  1. Age of the pole and line.
  2. If the line serves more than 50 members.
  3. LCP has 147 feeders. Each is categorized in numerical order by outage duration. The feeders that give the most frequent outages are targeted for replacement.
  4. Engineers also look for lines that are heavily loaded.

“Just like anything else, our distribution system has a useful life that requires us to monitor, maintain and replace aging infrastructure,” added Jake. “It helps ensure a safe electrical system for the public and our employees, while helping improve reliability.”

Chrzanowski also stated that by rebuilding LCP’s infrastructure, it helps the co-op minimize long-term costs by reducing maintenance and outage costs. It also helps LCP prepare for future growth.

This year’s construction plan addresses all four sets of criteria. This map provides a broad overview of the general locations where construction work will happen on Lake Country Power’s distribution system in 2019.

2019 Construction Projects

  • Peary Substation (01 on the map) 
    Click map for greater detail
    • Rebuild an overhead line from copper wire to aluminum
    • Relocate a line to improve efficiency for line maintenance
  • Pike River Substation (02) 
    • Rebuild an overhead line from copper wire to aluminum
    • Rebuild an overhead line that’s been causing frequent outages
  • Meadowbrook Substation (03)
    • Rebuild an overhead copper line to aluminum wire north of Side Lake 
  • Cotton Substation (11)
    • Rebuild an overhead copper line to aluminum wire
  • Sand Lake Substation (12)
    • Rebuild an overhead copper line to aluminum wire south of Cook
  • Vermilion Substation (15)
    • The substation will be moved from the MP 46 kV line to the GRE 69 kV transmission line. The change will enable the Vermilion substation to phase-in with neighboring Frazer Bay and Pike River substations for improved back feeding and outage restoration options. The voltage conversion will also increase reliability, as the new 69 kV line has historically outperformed the 46 kV line that currently feeds the substation. There is also a payback for this project from reduced transmission costs, saving member dollars.
  • Frazer Bay Substation (16) 
    • Rebuild an overhead line from copper to aluminum
  • Orr Substation (17)
    • Rebuild and relocate an overhead line near Echo Lake 
    • Rebuild and relocate an overhead line near Crane Lake 
    • Rebuild 2.1 miles of a three-phase line to improve reliability
  • Lakeland B Substation (19) 
    • Rebuild a copper overhead line to aluminum
    • Rebuild and move a line near Aurora
  • Cedar Valley Substation (36)
    • Build a new tie-line to replace an existing river crossing north of Floodwood
  • Sturgeon Lake Substation (39)
    • Build a new tie-line to replace a cross-country line that’s difficult to access
  • Knife Falls Substation (45)
    • Replace a two-phase line with three-phase service to improve service near Esko
  • Onigum Substation (51)
    • Rebuild a copper line to aluminum east of Leech Lake 
  • Arbo Substation (53)
    • Rebuild from single-phase to a three-phase line north of Bass Lake to improve power quality
  • Ball Club Substation (54)
    • Rebuild four miles of a three-phase line west of Deer Lake 
  • Bena Substation (60)
    • Rebuild a single-phase line west of Lake Winnibigoshish
  • Shoal Lake Substation (66)
    • Adding underground service near Nashwauk
    • Rebuild an overhead line to underground so an overhead lake crossing can be eliminated  
  • Pokegama Substation (67)
    • Rebuild copper lines to aluminum along Crystal Springs Road


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