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Western Area Power Association Fiber Optics Installation

Location: Loveland, CO
Completed: 2007
Client: Western Area Power Association
Size: Eight miles of line over a 30-square-mile area

Enhanced Data System Boosts Efficiency of Hydroelectric Power Supplier

The network of 57 hydroelectric power plants operated by Loveland, Colorado-based Western Area Power Association (WAPA) generates electricity for millions of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska residents. In 2007, WAPA turned to Guarantee Electrical to centralize control of the network's monitoring facilities and upgrade its data infrastructure from standard power cable to Optical Fiber Composite Overhead Ground Wire (OPGW) housing 24-strand fiber optics. Converting to OPGW would allow data to be transmitted intact at a higher speed over longer distances in the targeted 30-square-mile zone, minimizing the need to "refresh" signals between the data's source and its ultimate destination.

WAPA challenged Guarantee to complete the work with the least impact on its customers. To that end, after scheduling access to line spans totaling eight miles with private property owners, Guarantee worked with utility companies and owners to coordinate scheduled black-outs to minimize service disruption. All hydroelectric plants remained fully operational for the duration of the project.

Key components of the installation included:

  • Removing existing ground wire from primary overhead power poles
  • Replacing inadequately sized overhead poles
  • Installing conduit and fiber optic cables fed from localized control rooms to the OPGW fiber panel patch
  • Terminating 298 strands of fiber with Anaerobic ST fiber connectors
  • Testing all new fiber optic cables with optical time domain reflectometer (ODTR) testers

Guarantee achieved a perfect safety record in pulling new cables (often pulling them “blind” owing to the length of a given installation) through existing 480-volt to 6.9-kilovolt manholes.  It completed the assignment in six months.

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