Customer spotlight is on…

By Shelby Doherty

Just as National Grid does, municipal utilities keep a close eye on local demand for electricity and the condition of their infrastructure in order to plan ahead for system upgrades and enhancements.  In New England, 32 municipal utilities are interconnected to National Grid’s transmission network; in New York, there are 27.  All 59 are customers of Transmission Commercial Services, which coordinates with them early in the planning stages on projects that affect their connection to the grid to ensure enough lead time – in some cases as much as five years – to enable a successful interconnection to National Grid’s  transmission system.

Wakefield, Massachusetts is a community of about 25,000 located roughly 10 miles northwest of Boston.  In November 2015 the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department, a TCS customer, energized its new Wallace Substation.  This is the second substation that Wakefield interconnected to National Grid’s transmission system to serve its residential and commercial customers.

Coordination on engineering, permitting, design, and construction for this project began in 2012. The scope of the project included a half mile of transmission line reconductoring, four new structures, two new switches and new taps to interconnect National Grid’s two 115 kilovolt transmission circuits to the new substation.

It sounds like a relatively simple project, however, the transmission circuits involved span Route 95, a major interstate highway that is heavily traveled, so Transmission Line Services had to take appropriate safety precautions and traffic control measures, including closing the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway during construction.  It took TLS and its contractors six weekends to string new conductor over the highway.   In addition, extreme weather complicated the construction schedule, requiring several postponements of the highway closures.  National Grid also had to coordinate the timing of taking the affected lines out of service for finalizing construction due to seasonal peak electricity demands and other regional transmission activity.

“This is a great example of how early planning, internal teamwork and external working relationships help complex projects succeed,” said Kathryn Cox, director, Transmission Commercial Services.  “Close coordination among Outage Coordination, EMS, Transmission Line Services, Project Management and the customer’s team helped us move this project along despite challenges from Mother Nature.”

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