/images/TDUpdate2.gif/images/southwire_100x70.jpgSouthwire Delivers in Massive Path 15 Project - 2005SouthwireDeliversInMassivePath15Project2005.htmCalifornia's Path 15 grid upgrade in 2003 - 04 was one of the largest U.S. transmission line projects in the last decade. So when the contractor needed assurance of timely delivery of seven million pounds of overhead conductors, they chose Southwire.
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Southwire Delivers in Massive Path 15 Project - 2005

Southwire Delivers in Massive Path 15 project

Engineering expertise and manufacturing know-how helped move a major California grid upgrade.

California's Path 15 grid upgrade in 2003 - 04 was one of the largest U.S. transmission line projects in the last decade. So when the contractor needed assurance of timely delivery of seven million pounds of overhead conductors, they chose Southwire.

Built in the mid-1980s, Path 15 is a system of 500kV lines connecting the northern and southern sections of the California power grid. Much of Path 15 uses three 500kV circuits, and can handle up to 5,400 megawatts. But in a critical 84-mile section between the Los Banos and Gates substations in central California, there were only two 500kV lines. Capacity was squeezed down to 3,900 megawatts. That was a problem.

Capacity was a long-standing problem

The Path 15 bottleneck had plagued Californians for over a decade. There simply wasn't enough capacity to carry growing north-south loads, especially in the winter. When northern California experienced rolling blackouts in 2001, power available south of Path 15 couldn't be delivered due to the limited transfer capacity.

In 2002, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) began engineering and construction of a major upgrade to the bottleneck. The project added a third 500-kV transmission line - and about 1,500 megawatts of capacity - to the 84 mile Los Banos-Gates link. Financed substantially with private funds, the massive Path 15 project cost more than $306 million.

Construction started in late 2003, and planners wanted the line energized by the end of 2004. That was a tall order. The project was complex, and logistics requirements included air-crane helicopters lifting 15,000-pound tower sections to remote sites. Timely delivery of the conductors was vital to the project. Southwire engineering and manufacturing teams were up to the job.

The solution included engineering, manufacturing and logistics

First, Southwire engineering helped speed the conductor design effort. Then Southwire manufacturing cranked out over seven million pounds of conductor without a flaw. Delivery, staged over three month's time, was synchronized with construction progress. Southwire also provided logistical support with last minute adjustments to the lengths shipped to different job sites. The result: the conductors were delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.

The new 500kV line was energized in the fall of 2004. The new line will allow power managers to better direct the flow of electricity throughout the state, creating significant savings. The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has estimated that the cost will be recovered in four years.

"The Path 15 project is a clear example of how private industry can improve the reliability of the nation's power lines, given the right climate to work in," says Eddie Adams, president of Southwire's Energy Division. "At Southwire, we are proud to have been part of the solution."