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City starts million-dollar project to back up power grid

Boulder City is embarking on one of its largest projects in decades as part of its capital improvement plan, replacing the backup power supply.

The city’s backup power source is important and needs to be in working order, according to Acting City Manager Scott Hansen.

“The BC Tap project replaces the city’s backup power source, which is currently outdated and has limited capacity,” he said. “This project will not impact the daily service for our customers, but in the event of a problem with our primary power source at the Mead Substation, this project is critical to serve our community.

“There is $1.4 million in the budget for this project,” he added. “This is a challenging project to estimate, as Boulder City has not performed a similar project in decades.”

The scope of the project encompasses several moving parts.

“The city’s high voltage lines that run along Adams Boulevard, Buchanan Boulevard and extend down into Hemenway Valley all carry electricity at 69kV,” Hansen said. “For the city to get power off of the main grid, we need to step it down to a voltage our local system can handle.

“The large transformer to step the voltage down … will take over a year to build and deliver,” he added. “Therefore those are being ordered in advance. There are also other long lead time items such as breakers and a transformer for station power. This project will also require a contract to install a large concrete pad for the equipment to sit on, grounding, connections to the high voltage lines, and installation work.”

The timeline of the project is more than a year, with transformers ordered in August, but delivery and installation not scheduled to begin until 2018.

Boulder City is also planning to improve the electrical services in town by installing new electricity meters.

Hansen said that many of the meters throughout the community are old, and replacing them is the fair thing to do so that the readings are accurate and everyone is paying their fair share.

The AMR type meters are expected to start being installed in August, and the city has budgeted $500,000 for this year.

In addition to the electrical improvements, the city is planning is to work on the water services by adding another water line to the Eldorado Valley.

“The current waterline is a 15-mile long waterline that has no backup supply,” he said. “This line was built in 1998 and has been operating at maximum capacity for many years. The result is excessive wear on the pressure reducing station and the line. A second line will reduce the daily demand on the first line and provide a backup system during periods of maintenance.”

Work on the waterline will start in the next six months, according to Hansen. The work will also need to be phased, as it does not have sufficient funds budgeted to extend the entire distance to Eldorado Valley.

The city has budgeted $2 million for the project.

According to Hansen, funding to start the project is coming from revenue from the solar companies who are leasing property in the Eldorado Valley. Work is expected to begin the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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