A Chain Reaction – Substation Upgrades

June 17, 2021

At Stearns Electric Association, we strive to always provide our member-consumers with reliable electricity. Many times, that means being proactive in our projects to ensure we are ahead of the needs of our members as the demand for electric load increases.

We recently completed an upgrade at our Crow Lake Substation just north of Belgrade for this exact reason. Due to load growth in the area, we upgraded the existing 7,500 kVA (kilo-volt-ampere) transformer to a new 10,000 kVA transformer. The new transformer has a top-end rating of 14,000 kVA, nearly double the base rating of the model that we upgraded!

“Although a large project like this substation transformer upgrade will not have a direct, noticeable effect to our membership at this time, we are confident knowing we are preventing potential overload scenarios which could cause large, sustained outages,” explained Manager of Engineering, James Pachan.

The project also requires the use of a large crane due to the weight of both the new and old transformers. We partnered with Landwehr Construction to assist in the move of these 30-ton, or heavier, transformers.

To make the best use of our electrical distribution resources, our work plan includes a chain reaction of these substation transformer upgrades. The Crow Lake Substation received this brand-new transformer. The transformer from Crow Lake will move to our Grove Substation, and we will continue by moving that existing transformer to the Bangor Substation. Finally, the Bangor transformer will be installed at our Zion Substation.

By the end of the summer, all of these substations will be equipped to better serve our members and their electrical needs for years to come. Each of these transformer changes is accompanied by additional upgrades and maintenance that will be completed throughout the summer.

“Each of these substation transformers was reaching their rated capacity and it worked out that each transformer in succession fulfilled the size requirement we needed for the next substation. Being able to do them in a chain like this is a much more efficient process than doing them individually,” detailed Glen Kemper, Substation Operations and Technology Supervisor.

Visit our Facebook page for a time-lapse video of the Crow Lake transformer upgrade.