I’m the project engineer/consultant that procured, designed and commissioned the Vining Substation for the City of Powell back in 1992-93. The city electrical engineer (Zane …
I’m the project engineer/consultant that procured, designed and commissioned the Vining Substation for the City of Powell back in 1992-93. The city electrical engineer (Zane Logan) and city administrator (Duane Wroe) at the time were “top drawer” to work with.
When I heard about your explosion, my first suspicion was a failed piece of GE equipment. I was right: a GE feeder breaker. At the time, we cautioned the city council not to accept low bids without exception and to consider other value factors that often lead you to the second, or even third, low bid for best overall value. However, the council consistently accepted the lowest bids throughout this project. These GE breakers were “lower end” equipment at the time. GE had successfully low bid several components of the substation (breakers, transformers, regulators, relays).
During commissioning, there were quality and performance problems with each type of GE equipment. In my opinion, GE was “milking” decades-old technology and cutting corners with cheaper fabrication. GE missed the mark on the Vining Substation and provided little factory support. The City of Powell was too small of a customer for GE to concern themselves, as compared to large utility and industrial customers. My opinion of GE has not improved. Hindsight is 20/20. Take “value” into consideration as you move forward. Always beware of the low bid! Sometimes a fourth or more of them should be tossed aside. These are not the type of projects you want to cut corners on. The Vining Substation design is a good one. Its infrastructure should provide you another 30-plus years with proper maintenance and equipment upgrades over time.
I thank all of the folks of Powell for my work experiences there many years ago. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Powell!