Laramie River Station switchgear project delayed

The completion of a multi-phase project to upgrade the switchgear at Basin Electric’s Laramie River Station in Wheatland, Wyoming, has been delayed by a year. The 480-volt switchgear is a critical piece of power plant equipment that helps isolate and protect other systems in each unit.

Trent Schwahn, Basin Electric electrical engineer III, is coordinating the project. “The switchgear had reached the end of its useful life, and its replacement will ensure safe, reliable, maintainable operations going forward” he said. The board approved the project in phases, Unit 1 in 2017, Unit 2 in 2018, and Unit 3 and associated essential services in 2019.

Schwahn said initially the project was to be completed in 2023, in coordination with unit outages. “Due to COVID-19 and other reasons, Laramie River will not have any major outages during 2020, thus extending project completion out to 2024,” he said. “In order to minimize outages and effects on plant operations, the equipment replacement per unit is to be completed over the duration of two outages, which range in duration from 6-8 weeks.”

Unit 3 project work will be completed during the planned fall 2021 outage. Unit 2 switchgear and other associated system work will be completed in the planned 2022 outages. Unit 3 work will wrap up in spring 2024.

Dustin Rothe is the electrical engineer at Laramie River, serving as boots-on-the-ground daily and coordinating critical project pieces such as securing temporary power ahead of the outages. Berwick Electric is the contractor for all three units. “Berwick has been doing a great job and has been extremely flexible and accommodating the changing outage schedules,” Schwahn said.