STANLEY Substantial upgrading and expansion of electrical transmission lines in Mountrail and Williams counties is continuing this summer.
A large electrical sub-station was constructed near Belden last fall to serve sub-stations at New Town, Stanley and Parshall. As part of that project, 39 miles of new transmission line was installed from Tioga to Belden.
"That main 115,000-volt line is complete, up and energized," said Dale Haugen, general manager and engineer for Mountrail-Williams Electric Co-op. "The large Belden sub-station is running and functional. We're running distribution lines out of it to distribute power to oil fields and other customers. It's in its final completion stage."
Kim Fundingsland/MDN --
Construction continued this week on a high-voltage transmission line being installed toward the east from a new electrical sub-station at Belden. Much of the new electrical service is destined to serve the expanding oil field west of Minot.
Power line construction crews were working east from Belden this week, looking to connect six miles of transmission line with a proposed sub-station in Austin Township. In 2010, construction of the transmission line will continue east to another sub-station in Oakland Township.
"After the Austin stretch is completed, we'll build a line from Belden all the way up to Stanley," said Haugen. "We'll start next week with the hauling of poles. We'll be tearing out the old line that was built in the 1940s. Those lines have a lifespan of 35 to 40 years, so we've been pushing it."
Haugen said he expects the Belden to Stanley line to be completed by the middle of September. With so much infrastructure being upgraded, Mountrail-Williams has added to its own crews by contracting an additional 85 linemen.
"We're very fortunate in this part of the country, staying out of the recession," said Haugen. "I've been getting calls from places like Idaho, Nebraska and Michigan from electrical contractors looking for work."
The cost of building new electrical transmission lines has risen considerably. Mountrail-Williams has opted to use wooden poles for its new construction because the cost of similar metal poles is five times more expensive.
"The 80- to 100-foot poles come from old trees that are among the most expensive," said Haugen. "Still, it's cheap compared to metal. They'll last 40 years or more and probably outlive the wire. The cost of these projects is $250,000 per mile. It's just so expensive. Just to get a pole in the ground, with insulators and all, is over $10,000 per pole."
Haugen credits the impact of oil activity in Mountrail and Williams counties, and its corresponding increased demand for electrical service, for new construction that might not have been possible otherwise.
"The oil field has had a very, very good impact. It's been a favorable impact," stated Haugen. "Our old infrastructure would have had to be replaced in the very near future and our customers would have had to pay, just the remaining customers. The rates would have really went up."
In addition to Mountrail-Williams Electric Co-op employees, others working on transmission line projects in Mountrail County are J.B. Construction of Linton, Brink Constructors of Rapid City, S.D., Govert Construction of Reva, S.D., and Higher Power Contractors of Wisconsin.