Neighboring utilities assist in voltage conversion project in Pender

The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) coordinated a voltage conversion project in the Village of Pender, Neb., in June with four neighboring utilities working together to assist the Village on the three-day project.

The project included installing 800 feet of new electric line and converting the line to underground and installing padmount transformers and junction boxes to fix a low voltage issue impacting areas of the Village. Participating neighboring utilities included personnel from West Point, Wisner, Lyons and Pierce.

The Village of Pender, like many small utilities, faces labor and equipment resource challenges for large projects to maintain their electric distribution system. The assistance from other nearby utilities plays a vital role in completing larger projects.

“Pender could not do this project without the help of neighboring communities,” said Pender Village Administrator Glen Gralheer. “We have a small work force with limited electrical experience. Everyone benefits from these experiences. People network and get to know one another. During this time, they share experiences and best work practices. There is no substitute for working side-by-side to build relationships and knowledge.”

Rich Eymann, electrical distribution operations and maintenance specialist with MEAN, helped to coordinate the project, coordinating assistance from utilities and the necessary equipment to complete the project. Eymann led a field safety meeting at the start of each day of the project to ensure proper safety procedures were in place before utility workers from multiple crews began work on the project. The project also provided valuable hands-on training as some of the electric utility workers had minimal experience working with underground electric lines.

The completed project will alleviate the low voltage issues that were impacting some Village residents that were at the end of the electric line, especially during times of high electric demand such as during summer when air conditioners and other higher electric load appliances are running.