News Releases

Sierra Pacific's Transformers to Arrive in Ely this Week

Jan 19, 2004

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Faye I. Andersen
Phone: (775)-834-4822

For Immediate Release

Two international travelers will arrive in Ely this week after traversing over 5,000 miles by sea, another 1,300 miles by railway, and a final 140 miles by roadway. The end to their journey will actually be six miles north of Ely at Sierra Pacific Power Company's Gonder Substation, the eastern most terminus of a new 345,000-volt electric transmission line.

Their trip began Oct. 28, when the components of two electrical transformers and related equipment were transported from the Va Tech Elin Transformer Company in Weiz, Austria, to a waiting barge at Linz, Austria, on the Danube River. The transformer components made their way through canals and rivers to Antwerp, Belgium, where they were placed on a ship that delivered them to Houston, Texas. From there, they were loaded onto railcars for the trip to Wells, Nev. A special 130-foot flat bed truck will make four trips along Highway 93 from Wells to Ely to deliver all of the parts.

Over the next two months crews will assemble the transformers and related equipment in the substation. When assembled, each $1.35 million transformer will stand 24-feet tall and weigh 332,000 pounds. They are an integral part of the equipment necessary to move 300 megawatts of electrical power across the state to customers throughout northern Nevada. Transformers are devices used to increase or decrease electrical voltage. One megawatt of power is capable of serving approximately 650 homes.

"This is a major milestone for the project,"according to Mike Smart, vice president of Distribution for Sierra Pacific."The transformers and equipment are an integral part of connecting our new line to the western electric grid."When completed, the new transformers will connect existing transmission lines running to the substation from Utah, to Sierra Pacific's new transmission line.

"The project is regionally significant, because it will improve reliability and the economics of moving electrical power not only for Sierra Pacific, but for Mount Wheeler Power, Wells Rural Electric Company, Harney Electric Cooperative, the Western Area Power Administration and Bonneville Power Administration,"he said.

Smart said that work on the Gonder Substation began in April 2003 and crews have doubled the size of the existing substation to make room for the new equipment. Work on the new 180-mile transmission line began in July 2003 and is scheduled to be completed May 28, 2004. The western terminus of the line is at Sierra Pacific's Falcon substation, located in Boulder Valley, near Dunphy, Nev.

Planning for the transformers began in early 2001 when Sierra Pacific solicited bids to build the equipment. According to Smart, the Austrian firm of Va Tech Elin was selected because of their superior technological advancements over other manufacturers, their smaller size than conventional transformers and their lower cost. It took the firm five months to construct the transformers and associated equipment, and two-and-one-half months to deliver them from Austria to Ely.

Planning for Sierra Pacific's Falcon project began six years ago. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission approved the project in 1998 and 2001. Approximately 80 percent of the line is located on Bureau of Land Management administered public lands.

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