One transformer’s incredible journey to Watford City

Transformer is lowered onto its new pad at Watford City.

A 400-ton crane lifts the Philip transformer onto its new pad at the Watford City Substation.

Oh, if this transformer could talk, the stories it would tell. The 172,000-pound transformer from Western Area Power Administration‘s Philip, SD, substation traveled nearly 1,000 miles to reach its final destination at Western’s substation near Watford City, ND, on Jan. 11.

A quick look at any map can tell a person it’s not a 1,000-mile journey between Philip and Watford City, but circumstances required a sizable detour through Baker and Roundup, MT, to avoid oil field traffic and soft roads.

Dwight Barth, Basin Electric logistics/contract administrator, arranged the complicated logistics for the transport of the 230/115-kilovolt transformer. He’s moved bigger things over longer distances, but this one posed special challenges. Watch the video to hear him describe them.

Bryan Keller, Basin Electric manager of Transmission System Maintenance (TSM), says the transformer was removed from its pad at Philip in September 2011. It was stored until it was time to make the trip to North Dakota.

Lee Holden, Basin Electric substation superintendent, coordinated the transformer move from the TSM side. Western will use the transformer to serve load at Watford City when their upgraded Charlie Creek-to-Williston transmission line begins operation at 230 kilovolts later this spring.

Philip Substation’s new transformer is having an interesting journey of its own. It’s been delayed at the factory and should be delivered by the end of March. In the meantime, Philip is transformerless, and power is being rerouted.

Basin Electric and Western have a long history of working together through their partnership in the Integrated System. Learn more about this powerful partnership.

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