News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 24, 2014

Duke plans major move

Energy company hauling massive new transformer

TERRE HAUTE — Duke Energy plans to move an oversized transformer from Terre Haute to Rockville on Monday, starting at 8:30 a.m., an action that will temporarily close sections of some roads in Vigo and Parke counties.

A contingent of Indiana State Police as well as county or city police officers in Vigo and Parke counties will escort the transport convoy, said Rick Burger, Duke Energy district manager. The Indiana Department of Transportation will also monitor the convoy, Burger said.

“Motorists traveling Monday morning 8:30 a.m. or [later], may want to make plans” for delays or look for alternative routes, Burger said. “We may start a little earlier if the weather is good.”

The transport will go along Fort Harrison Road to U.S. 41 North in Vigo County, then through county roads in Parke County to a power substation.

“The average speed this will be moving is 3 to 12 miles per hour,” Burger said. “This will be a day-long move.”

The $1.12 million 138KV/69 KV (kilovolts) transformer was built in Monterrey, Mexico, then transported via railroad to CSX Transportation’s rail yard near Maple Avenue and North 19th Street in Terre Haute, said Charlie West, Duke Energy’s project manager.

The transformer will travel about 35 miles from Terre Haute to Rockville and will be located at Duke Energy’s Substation No. 138, West said.

A special 157-foot long low-boy trailer will haul the 88.3 ton (176,642 pounds) transformer, which itself is 15 feet high, 8.76 feet wide and is 20 feet long. The flat trailer has 96 tires (48 in front and 48 in the rear) to distribute the heavy load to reduce harm to the roadways and bridges.

While the transformer will have a shipping height of 16 feet, 2 inches, Burger said Duke Energy crews will be along the route to ensure all power lines are out of reach.

“It is a massive piece of equipment. You just don’t haul something this big down the road without a lot of pre-planning,” Burger said

Duke Energy has made such moves before, such as in 2010 when a 216-ton, $2.5 million transformer was moved to the Dresser substation in West Terre Haute.

“These are large transformers that serve substations, which then serves the circuits of your homes and communities. We are making an upgrade for service reliability. Duke Energy is investing a lot of money in its system throughout the state of Indiana,” Burger said.

“It is like your roads and bridges in our country right now, even the energy system needs updates and that is what we are doing,” Burger said. “You got to put money back into it to have reliable power.”

The transformer is not connected with the future closing of the Wabash River Generating station, Burger said. The Wabash River power station is scheduled to close in 2018.

“This transformer gives us flexibility to re-route power in the event of power outage from a storm,” Burger said, “or in the event of an equipment failure.”

The new transformer will also share a portion of the electric load now being carried by the substation’s existing equipment, allowing the existing equipment to work more efficiently with less strain, Burger said.

Edwards Moving and Rigging of Shelbyville, Ky., is hauling the large transformer.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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