Electrical provider Northwestern Electric Cooperative (NWEC) and global energy company Renewable Energy Systems Ltd. (RES) are partnering to rehabilitate 380 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Oklahoma. The lines are currently functional but require future proofing from the state’s extreme weather conditions. The focus of the partnership’s upgrade and restoration work is strengthening grid resilience against future weather events.
The Grid Challenge in the Oklahoma Climate
Historically, the humid subtropical state regularly experiences extreme temperatures, heavy rains, blizzards, snow storms, and tornadoes. Its electrical infrastructures are left vulnerable to the elements year after year. NWEC, the cooperative utility that services the area, incurred transmission line damages costing at least 21 million USD from the storms that swept through Oklahoma in 2017.
One of the areas that took a severe hit that year was the district within a 50-mile radius southwest of Westwood. The lines were promptly restored, but there is no certainty that future condition will not wear out the infrastructures again. Safeguarding the lines is important for ensuring sustainability.
The first programs of the restoration will focus on rebuilding 380 miles of electrical lines that run along recently storm-ravaged area near Westwood. The electrical company deliberated in 2018 over which provider to contract for the enhancement build.
Partners for Resilient and Sustainable Electrical Grids
Renewable Energy Systems, Ltd. is the global sustainable energy that focuses on constructing and developing responsibly sourced grids and electricity solutions. .Early this year, NWEC selected RES to work with them in future-proofing their Oklahoma grid by building the lines’ resistance to future weather incidents.
Specifically, RES is contracted to undertake the first three weather-resilience project of NWEC. These projects include replacement of old conductors and installation of upgraded poles and storm anchors. NWEC’s Member Services & Communications Coordinate, Jonna Helsley, emphasized how these projects form a crucial foundation for strengthening their systems against environmental challenges.
The repair will be concentrated in the area southwest of Westwood, on lines that are located within a 50-mile radius from the district. Work had actually already begun on these projects since April of this year. It is still a long haul, though, with all the grid resilience works expected to be completed well within 2020.
Grid Resilience and Other Perks
Other than the obvious stakeholders, local businesses, service providers, and workers will also likely feel the positive impact of these projects. The workforce for the restoration will be sourced primarily in the area. There is an assured number of at least 60 full time employees from the locality during the peak period of construction.
The two energy companies are also partnering with subcontractors in the area to keep the work as planned and on track. There will also be a good number of specialized workers who will be imported from other states to help in the sites. This will also help boost revenues for local shops, hotels, home shares, and other businesses.
Not Just Electrical Projects
The state’s communities stand to enjoy safe and reliable energy delivery in any weather once the projects are implemented. It will also help build the town’s economy. It will help provide job security for many Oklahoma resident. It will also give different energy organizations in the area the chance to contribute to the development of their state.Overall, the construction projects by RES and NWEC brings not only grid resilience against extreme weather. With it comes an ever growing economy in the state of Oklahoma..