Burns & McDonnell, Entergy start aerial work to build 230-kV transmission line through Louisiana marshes

Engineering, procurement and construction firm Burns & McDonnell has finally started work to build an oft-delayed, terrain-challenged 16-mile electric transmission line for Entergy Louisiana.

The 230-kV line will run from Waterford to Vacherie substations. The project will help meet future load growth and reliability needs for 1.3 million Entergy customers served in the region. Burns & McDonnell announced that helicopter operations have begun on the transmission route, which runs through the marshes of southern Louisiana.

“Electrical transmission and distribution facilities continue to play an important role for our society — they connect us to green energy, power our economy and provide the reliability needed to keep us safe,” says Jeff Allen, vice president and regional Construction/Design-Build Group manager for Burns & McDonnell in Houston. “Our experience in and commitment to finding new solutions for traditional overhead transmission challenges leads the industry in providing for the future. We are proud to collaborate with Entergy to deliver this vital project in support of Louisianans.”

Entergy Louisiana selected Burns & McDonnell for the project back in 2018, and because of the terrain the EPC contractor planned to move transmission structures with helicopters and then use swamp equipment to set the assets. During the same year Entergy chose to halt aerial operations and reevaluate the use of helicopter for project delivery.

By late 2019 new standards and practices allowed the utility to re-institute the ability to utilize helicopter operations. The Entergy and Burns & McDonnell team devised an execution process that allowed Waterford-to-Vacherie work to begin — creating a plan that would optimize flight operations, lessen impacts on the environment and minimize overall work hours.

The project team’s planned remobilization to the field in August 2020 was delayed by the arrival of Hurricane Laura. The storm caused significant damage to Entergy’s grid throughout its Louisiana service territory, which Burns & McDonnell supported in restoring power. During that time, focus switched from transmission upgrades to restoring power to the utility’s 219 transmission lines, 292 substations, 3,729 transformers and 18,707 spans of wire that were damaged.

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(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a longtime newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. Walton can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com).

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