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Manitoba Hydro embarks on $445-million network modernization

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by Myron Love

Manitoba Hydro is in the midst of a nearly $445-million modernization of its network of substations in the city of Winnipeg.
Manitoba Hydro embarks on $445-million network modernization

Under the aegis of the "20x20" initiative, the utility plans to reduce the number of overloaded stations to 20 per cent by 2020, said Manitoba Hydro public affairs officer Bruce Owen. Approximately 20 projects have been identified with some only involving load transfers to new stations. There are total of 101 distribution stations serving the Winnipeg area.

While 20x20 addresses replacing aging infrastructure, its main focus is increasing capacity in a growing city.

"Overloading a station can result in outages and reduced reliability for our customers," Owen said.

One project is the new Madison Station in the Polo Park area near Winnipeg's largest shopping mall. Madison is in the process of being switched on while its predecessor, the St. James Station a couple of blocks away, is to be phased out of service.

"A lot of the distribution equipment in and around the St. James Station is from the 1950s when Winnipeg was undergoing its first post-war growth," Owen said. "This station serves the area west of Polo Park as well as the airport. The new station will provide more reliable electrical service."

A second major project is the new Adelaide Street substation in the city's downtown. Nearing completion, it will replace the utility's aging substation on King Street in the Exchange District. The electrical equipment at King Street, Owen points out, was installed before the First World War.

"With all the new development in the downtown, demand for electricity is going up despite efforts to build more energy-efficient buildings," Owen said. "The King Street station was not able to handle the growing demand."

He said the Adelaide substation, a few blocks north from the King Street station, should be completed by May or June at which time the electrical load will slowly begin to be transferred from King to Adelaide and the older location will gradually be decommissioned.

A consortium led by General Electric Canada won the $31.3-million contract to build the new, 66 kilovolt gas-insulated substation. Edmonton-based HB Construction is a subcontractor on the project.

Across the city, the Harrow Station expansion project, which is just getting started, will increase capacity and improve reliability to meet commercial and residential growth in south Winnipeg.

Construction is also underway on the reconstruction and expansion of the existing McPhillips distribution station in northwest Winnipeg. This project is being built on existing Manitoba Hydro land next to one of Winnipeg's two casinos and will include expansion of the station yard, installation of new equipment and the reconnection of feeder lines.

This project is required as the existing two transformers in the station cannot handle any increase in load due to growth in the area, Owen said. As well, safety improvements are required with the aging equipment to protect operational staff.

The project includes relocating the distribution equipment to the newly expanded yard, replacing the existing two transformers with three new transformers, adding a capacitor bank, constructing a new control building and reconnecting feeder lines to the new equipment.

The McPhillips Station contains both transmission and distribution equipment areas in the station yard. This project will only be replacing the distribution equipment. No work will be done on the transmission equipment.

Construction work on the $47.2-million project started in the spring of 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018.

In development is the new Dawson Road Station in east Winnipeg. The new station will replace distribution infrastructure installed in the 1960s, increase capacity and meet increasing demand for electricity. The in-service date is 2020.

Similarly, the Mohawk Station in southeast Winnipeg will be expanded, again to increase capacity and meet future residential and commercial development, including expansion at the University of Manitoba. Mohawk Station's in-service date is 2019.

"Some distribution infrastructure in Winnipeg and around the province is getting old," Owen said. "By doing this work we'll enable additional load transfers between stations to address capacity issues and modernize a vital part of our system to improve reliability for our customers."

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