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Texas substation built in half the normal time is model for future

by on October 12, 2012

(Story by Stephen J. Ostrander)

A substation built by AEP Transmission in Southern Texas in half the normal time has become the instructional template for standardizing construction of similar stations in similar fashion in the future. 

Speedy completion has meant the satisfied customer, Koch Pipeline Company, has delivered domestic crude oil to refineries in Corpus Christi faster and recovered its costs sooner. It also results in swifter revenue recovery for AEP with the bonus of putting the company in a position to be the primary provider for customers who need fast and reliable electric service.

The $5 million, 138-kilovolt Mayo Substation was finished in a little over nine months.

The $5 million, 138-kilovolt (kV) Mayo Substation was finished in a little over nine months; two weeks ahead of schedule, under budget and without safety incidents, explained Frank Pritzlaff, project manager – AEP Transmission. Construction of a station typically takes up to 18 months, but that is too long a wait for oil and gas producers eager to drill in locations far from electric service. Consequently, AEP has developed strategies to serve these new customers.

Every phase of the Mayo project — land acquisition, site preparation, design, engineering, procurement, construction — had an abbreviated schedule and little room for error. The station went into service Sept. 14.

Collaboration key to swift construction

“This was a totally collaborative effort from start to finish,” said Pritzlaff. “Everybody knew what was required and everybody stepped up to the plate and delivered. We had to be oriented to the customer’s need, so they would not go to another provider. We want to be their preferred provider. This project showed that we can be competitive in this part of the business.”

Mayo Substation is located near Taft, Texas, about 20 miles north of Corpus Christi. It serves the oil-pumping station operated by the Wichita, Kansas-based company, which has been expanding “its ability to provide services in the growing Eagle Ford production area,” according to the company’s website.

Mayo Substation is located near Taft, Texas, about 20 miles north of Corpus Christi.

Mayo Station is prototype for ‘station in a box’

Mayo Station is equipped with a “drop in control module” (DICM) that will be the standard for AEP Transmission’s innovative “station in a box.” The DICM is a pre-fabricated unit with integrated wiring and panels built to hasten substation construction. It is an element of the station in a box, which features all materials needed for station construction — structural steel, transformer, and prefabricated DICM, drawings, equipment and remaining gear, down to nuts and bolts — ready to go in a locked portable steel container. All materials can be trucked to sites for construction as a permanent structure. AEP Transmission has a pair of stations in a box in Kingsville, 30 miles southwest of Corpus Christi, ready for the next customer who needs immediate service.

The new station is built beside an existing 138-kV transmission line and will bolster another substation in Taft. AEP Distribution is now running distribution lines from the nascent substation to the oil-pumping station, which until now has relied on large generators for power.

“The completion of Mayo Station by halftime demonstrates our fitness for being in a competitive environment,” said James Berger, AEP managing director of transmission projects, based in Tulsa, Okla. “It shows that we can be an innovative, nimble and customer sensitive provider.”

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