Working within a narrow time frame at 9,000-foot elevations and blasted by cyclone-force winter winds, crews with MYR Group subsidiary Sturgeon Electric Company, Inc. successfully completed Xcel Energy’s Eldora Capacity Reinforcement Project in Nederland, CO, on schedule and with impeccable safety performance.
“It was the planning and safe execution that we’re most proud of,” said Sturgeon Electric Sr. Operations Manager Mark Hoffman. “The goal was to complete this project prior to the harsh winter conditions that Nederland is famous for, and the crews did so with a perfect safety record – no incidents, accidents or even a close call.”
Xcel Energy hired Sturgeon Electric in January, 2014, after the original contractors had run into difficulties and were unable to complete the first phase of the project, a 25kV distribution rebuild for the Eldora Ski Resort.
On a mountain appropriately named “Hurricane Hill,” the crews performed work in sustained winds of 70-80 mph and temperatures well below zero.
“Conditions were extremely difficult up there; it was all mountains and rock,” said Hoffman. “We couldn’t bring in heavy equipment, which meant a lot of hand digging, jackhammers, drilling and blasting. Bucket truck access was minimal. Many of the poles were set using helicopters.”
Hoffman, who was a general foreman at the time, says he was charged with finding the best-trained crews for the project.
“We had to pick task-specific foremen to develop a work plan and coordinate the outages and materials with Xcel Energy and their customers,” he recalled. “This is specialized work which includes almost all climbing and hot-stick work – the voltage is 25kV and cannot be rubber gloved. We assembled a highly trained and experienced team from within, which we were confident would give Xcel Energy and Sturgeon Electric the best outcome.”
Once Sturgeon crews were mobilized, the job quickly got back on track, and the first phase was energized and completed in January, as scheduled. Following that success, Sturgeon Electric General Foreman Scott Freed and a team of 24 employees built four additional phases of the project, which entailed erecting 70 poles along roughly 4.2 miles between Nederland and the ski resort and nine additional poles along a quarter-mile stretch just outside Nederland to provide the town with improved power reliability.
The job went smoothly largely due to the teamwork and coordination between Sturgeon Electric and Xcel Energy, a valued client with whom Sturgeon Electric has a Master Services Agreement and a longtime trusting relationship.