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Team effort results in successful completion of Turk transmission project work

by on October 3, 2012
Crews lift a transmission structure into place as part of the Turk transmission project. (Photo by: Turk Transmission Team)

(Story by Scott McCloud and Stephen Ostrander)

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The final transmission facility for the soon-to-be-finished John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant in southwestern Arkansas — a 30-mile, 345-kilovolt (kV) line between the plant and Northwest Texarkana Station — was energized August 28.

Construction on transmission facilities for the $1.7 billion coal-fired Turk Plant (direct costs) started four years ago and encompassed 15 transmission lines (including two 138-kV lines and one 345 kV line), 12 station facilities, six river crossings, 110 miles of transmission line and dozens of contractors.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) will own 73 percent of the 600-megawatt, ultra-supercritical plant, scheduled for completion later this year.

“The success in bringing this project in on schedule and under budget is a tribute to everyone on our project team,” said George Carpenter, director – Transmission Project Management. “Every member of this team consistently demonstrated Transmission’s cultural pillars of being engaged, informed, solution-oriented, collaborative and mutual care. They responded to each of the many challenges encountered over the past four and a half years as a unit, and developed good business solutions to meet every challenge.”

Team worked together to overcome major bumps in the road

When a federal court injunction halted sequential construction of transmission structures on the banks of the Red and Little rivers, work shifted to other locations of the project to remain on schedule, said Carpenter. A legal settlement between AEP and environmental groups in December 2011 lifted the injunction and led to resumption of construction at the river crossings.

Workers string conductor as part of the 110 miles of transmission line used in the project. (Photo by: Turk Transmission Team)

The project team also expedited transfer of a spare transformer when a new one experienced a manufacturing delay.

“The group worked together to evaluate the situation, identify a strategy, and execute the plan,” said Carpenter. “It always looked for a way to succeed rather than accept an excuse for delay.”

The group celebrated with a dinner event in Texarkana that included a tribute to a lost team member and friend, Gerry Tyzinski, and the presentation of a “Turkopoly” board game to Carpenter by team members Anita Hartman and Linda Eldridge.

Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer, was on hand to applaud the team’s accomplishments.

“We have waited a long time for this party, and the result is three beautiful transmission lines that are straight and true and will serve customers for many decades to come,” said McCellon-Allen. “This project crossed many organizational lines to a successful end, and I appreciate your commitment to customer service.”

Turk Transmission Project Team members at their offices in Texarkana (front row, left to right): Terri Andrews, Jennifer Meyer, Donna Wiltsie, George Carpenter, Elizabeth Stephens, Anita Hartman, Linda Eldridge, Ashley Schaefer; (back row): Joe Nowell, Eric Witt, Jonathan Wiltsie, Paul Jones, Linda Gillespie, Shane Mills, Liliana Cazacu, Dan Edgar and James Dunbar. Not shown: Billy Arnold, Glenn Bryson, Ed Lee, Steve Mullins, Jesse Parks, Mark Schlegel, Bryan Skipper, Ray Van Dusen. (Photo by: Scott McCloud)

Time capsule — J.W. Turk Power Plant Transmission Project

The transmission project began in February 2008 followed by initial construction activities beginning in September 2008. Major deliverables included two 138-kV lines and a single 345-kV line.

Project milestones:

  • Turk Plant to Sugar Hill Station 138-kV line — projected completion date, April 2011; completion, December 2010.
  • Patterson Station to Hope Station line conversion, 115 kV to 138 kV — projected completion date, April 2012; completion, November 2011.
  • Turk Plant to SE Texarkana Station 138-kV line — projected completion date, September 2012; completion, August 28, 2012.
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