HOLMEN — A nearly 200-ton transformer destined for a new high-voltage substation resumed its slow journey Wednesday, a week after being sidelined by water-logged fields.
Riding on a 14-axle self-propelled trailer, the device crept through cornfields and across the Great River State bike trail en route to its eventual home in a substation being built on Briggs Road as part of the CapX2020 electric transmission project.
Crews in diesel material handlers assembled an oak “mat” to keep the load from sinking into the soil, picking up the beams as the trailer inched forward and placing them in its path.
Built in South Korea, the transformer traveled by ship to Houston and by train to a rail spur just a couple of miles from the substation. But a 20-ton bridge over Halfway Creek couldn’t bear the weight, said Rob Bullis, substation foreman for Xcel Energy.
Though smaller than a semi trailer, there’s more to this transformer than meets the eye. It weighs in at 387,000 pounds thanks to a half dozen coils inside its steel sheeting.
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The transformer was expected to complete the final leg of its journey today with a jaunt up County Road XX and across a soybean field to the substation. Hydraulic rams on the trailer will nudge it down I-beam supports greased with dish soap until it can be lowered onto a concrete pad, where it will convert incoming electricity from the 345 kilovolts used for long-distance transmission to 161 kv.
The Briggs Road substation is one of six on the CapX2020, a $550 million high-voltage transmission line between Hampton, Minn., and Holmen.
Though Xcel has larger substations, Bullis said it will be the utility’s biggest built from scratch.
It’s expected to begin some operations in mid-September and to be fully operational in 2015.