Modernizing our power infrastructure

Kent Collins

Kent Collins, acting head of the Facilities Engineering Services Section, wrote this column.

Next summer FESS will start demolition and replacement of the high-voltage electrical Master Substation service building.

Incoming power from the Commonwealth Edison transmission lines on the east perimeter of the Fermilab site is conducted southward on the Bob Wilson-designed pi-pole line to the substation. It is transformed from 345-kilovolt to 13.8-kilovolt service in the substation yard transformers, and it is metered and switched to the numerous underground distribution feeders from the orange Master Substation service building.

This critical facility served as the sole substation until an additional, modern sister facility was constructed on Kautz Road in 1995 to serve the Main Injector.

The 45-year-old equipment in the building is at the end of service life and is technologically obsolete. While we’ve continually replaced underground feeders and other critical components as they’ve failed, equipment in the substation has not been upgraded.

To enable this project, FESS is installing additional switches and underground cabling to allow operation of the Fermilab site from Kautz Road substation. This requires power outages on various feeders this summer and fall and two sitewide outages to test the Kautz Road substation reconfiguration under load. Other electrical work will also require three weekend outages for Wilson Hall, another outage over a weekend this fall, during which there will be no air conditioning in Wilson Hall, and a three week high-voltage outage next spring at the Central Helium Liquefier facility.

The schedules are not yet finalized for these outages, but the tentative plans are as follows:

  • July and August – Main Ring feeder replacement
  • Sept. 6-7 – Linac outage
  • Sept. 13-14 – CUB outage
  • Oct. 18-19 – Wilson Hall power outage
  • Oct. 20 – Kautz Road Substation testing starts
  • Oct. 25-26 – Wilson Hall power outage
  • Nov. 1-2 – Wilson Hall power outage
  • April 1-15, 2015 – CHL outage
  • September 2014-January 2016 – Giese Road Substation outage
Next year FESS will begin replacing the Master Substation service building, pictured, which is at its end of service. Photo: Russ Alber, FESS