Master Substation back in service

Randy Wieglos

After many months of work, we’re happy to announce that a newly upgraded power substation is now fully operational, supporting laboratory science and operations.

The newly upgraded Master Substation circuit breakers are in service. Photo: John Kruse

This upgrade was very much needed, given that, among other factors, the Master Substation was built almost 50 years ago — in 1968, in fact, as part of the original laboratory infrastructure.  It was built to run the large electrical demand of accelerators, experiments and the buildings. For the first half of the lab’s history, the Master Substation was the single source of electricity for the laboratory. If the Master Substation was down due to supplier outage or planned maintenance, the site would not be able to run the accelerators and experiments. Small alternate electrical feeds from ComEd were available to run lighting and house power loads during those down times. In the late 1990s the Main Injector was constructed, and the new Kautz Road Substation was built for the sole purpose of powering the new Main Injector. Kautz Road Substation was interconnected with Master Substation in a limited way to allow backup for lighting and building loads during an outage of either substation. When the Kautz Road Substation was out of service due to maintenance or unplanned outage, the Main Injector would not be able to run.

The newly upgraded Master Substation awaits the arrival of spring. Photo: Ron Foutch

In the 2010s, with the Tevatron no longer in service and Master Substation reaching the end of its useful life, planning for a long outage while it was being replaced resulted in the development of the Master Substation bypass plan. Once constructed, the laboratory could run the entire site, including the accelerators and experiments, from the Kautz Road Substation.

The project to replace Master Substation began by issuing orders for equipment in the spring of 2015. The Master Substation was taken out of service, and site construction began in November 2015. Demolition of the old structures, including below-grade foundations and the large capacitor tree, cleared the way for the new construction. In July 2016, the prefabricated building arrived on site in eight large sections, was placed on the newly constructed foundation, bolted together and secured in place. The underground work required to connect the new building to the yard equipment continued while crews worked inside the building, assembling and testing the electrical equipment supplied with the building.

In November 2016, the site construction and building assembly were complete, and testing of the integrated electrical systems began. Testing crews worked for several months to load the programs and test the protection systems. The final steps in configuring and testing the protection systems were completed earlier this year, making way for the transition to operations. The substation was energized from the ComEd 345,000-volt transmission system in February, and feeder transfers from Kautz Road Substation back to Master Substation were complete in March. The newly upgraded substation has been successfully integrated back into the Fermilab electrical system.

Congratulations to the FESS team for a successful Master Substation project.

Randy Wielgos of FESS is the electrical project manager for the Utilities Upgrade Project.