How new tools helped in executing recent work at Bloom 20MW Fuel Cell Project

By Tim Rzeszutek

Evolution is one of our four Elm Essentials and, to me, is defined in several ways with one of them being: growing our people skills to adapt to the changing markets along with the tools needed to do so.

Another would be redefining the way we look at completing our work.

Both of these definitions were executed this past weekend (11/24/23 through 11/26/23) with our crews working on the Bloom 20MW Fuel Cell Project. Our people needed to push their skills for a shutdown and installation of new substation equipment in an existing and operating 69kv facility where the growing market of private power generation will be back-feeding in to. Due to a short outage window not only did we have to do something we have not completed before, but we needed to figure out how to get it done in a window smaller than what some experienced people believe we could do it in.

The scope of work was to de-energize, isolate our work zone with what is known as “visual breaks” and ground the conductors in this area. From here, we needed to demo and existing 69kv gang operated disconnect switch on top of a 30’ existing substation structure. After the existing switch was removed we needed to install a new motor operated/manual operated 69kv disconnect switch on top of the same structure, including all the horizontal and vertical linkage. Upon completion of this work, we needed to get our third-party testing agency to confirm operation, make any small switch adjustments, and complete acceptance testing of the switch. After all testing was completed, our team needed to complete the line and load side connections to and from the switch with 795 ACSR conductors. These conductors needed to be brought to locations outside of the limited approach boundary of the operating 69kv substation so they can be continued to their new equipment when this equipment arrives.

Preplanning, a little late-night reading, asking questions with industry expert consultants, working with the equipment vendors, and confirming our work plan with our experienced third-party acceptance testing company is what helped us evolve our skills to feel comfortable with our approach. It also made us aware of the special tools we needed to acquire to do this work. In doing this, we also realized that going about the standard approach to stick building this switch 30’ in the air was not going to work for our timeline.

Switch assembly and adjustments were the biggest time components of this build, so we decided to build the switch, including horizontal linkage on the ground with temporary beams. These temp beams would also be used for lifting the switch as a whole on to the structure. With the switch assembled on the ground, we were also able to make 95 percent of our adjustments and complete some acceptance testing ahead of shutdown which rapidly sped up our timeline. I’m glad to say all work was completed safely and ahead of the timeline that we had given the customer. For cutting and crimping substation conductors we needed to purchase a 60Ton hypress crimper similar to the standard 12-ton Burndy units we use today, but obviously just much larger. A picture of this is shown below. The unit is and AFL 60AGSC. To drive this crimper head we purchased a Milwaukee, Battery Operated Hydraulic Pump-10,000PSI (2774-20). This unit was considerably smaller than its competitors gas power and electric units and allows for easy use in a man basket when we are 30’ in the air.

For cutting these conductors we needed to purchase Milwaukee, M18 Force Logic 1590 ACSR Cutter (9 Ton Cable Cutter). Cutting steel reinforced (that’s what the “SR” stands for in “ACSR”) conductors with standard wire cutting equipment will damage the blades and possibly the tool itself:

Finally, anytime you are working with aluminum conductors — both new and old — you should be brushing conductors and applying penetrox to all terminations. Most of us are aware of the penetrox piece, but I’m not sure we are all aware of the importance behind brushing the conductors. All of our cable and bus connections on this project were prepared using MADI wire brush tools, which can be seen below:

As all always if you have any question on the project or the tools discussed, feel free to reach out. Sharing experiences and knowledge is key to our success as a team.

Here are photos from the job: