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SRP lineworkers face concrete giant


From the July 9, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 9, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant
Salt River Project linemen rappelled down the 305-foot face of Horse Mesa Dam, located 65 miles north of Phoenix, Ariz., to complete work on SRP’s Horse Mesa Anchor Replacement project. The anchors that attach transmission lines to the dam were in need of replacement.

video on SRP’s YouTube channel documents some of the repair work the crew completed at the dam.


SRP Transmission Maintenance Lineman Josh Koon carefully checked his rappelling gear and ropes before stepping off the edge of Horse Mesa Dam. As he stepped off the side of the 305-foot-tall dam, a crane lowered a basket just a few feet away carrying Chris Fedock and Alex Robles, two other transmission maintenance linemen. Behind the linemen was Apache Lake and in front was the tail race channel of the Salt River that empties into Canyon Lake. Photos courtesy of the Salt River Project

For the linemen, the project was not much different from working atop power poles using ropes and baskets. But the big difference was the sheer expanse of the dam wall beside them, and the winds that tend to hit the dam, then shoot up to the top, SRP said.

"We’re used to the heights, but this was a little different for us," said SRP Transmission Maintenance Lineman Josh Koon. "You just have to believe in your training, your crew and your equipment."


Three linemen from the nine-member team climbed a transmission tower located about 700 feet from the dam to install grounds, ensuring that the two circuits they would be working on that day were de-energized and grounded. 

 

Under the direction of SRP Working Line Foreman Cliff Hogue, Koon and Chris Fedock and Alex Robles, who are also SRP transmission maintenance linemen, helped install new anchors that attach transmission lines to the dam.

Koon worked steadily to replace steel anchors on the face of the dam while Fedock and Robles untethered a 115-kilovolt transmission line to move it about 18 inches to another newly installed anchor. Lineman Luke Wilson also worked in the basket.

Before the linemen could move the lines, SRP Metal Fabricator Max Wojkalik took a turn in the basket to drill holes 22 inches into the dam to install new anchors for the transmission lines.

While the crew worked nearly 300 feet in the air, their colleagues kept an eye on the wind gauge to make sure winds did not exceed 15 miles per hour. If that happened, work would have to be halted until the winds subsided, SRP said.

"We all watch out for each other, especially on the line crews ... it’s kind of the way of life," said Hogue. "Like I said, we’re out here all the time by ourselves and we’re kind of our brother’s keeper ... We watch out for each other."

Koon and Hogue received training in rappelling, and took turns rappelling off the dam face that day. The linemen discussed safety issues and possible work hazards involved in rappelling down the dam and checked the equipment they used throughout the day, SRP said.

"The project is just one part of our ongoing efforts to ensure system reliability for our customers," said SRP spokesperson Patty Garcia-Likens. "In addition to that, it also strengthens our commitment to renewable energy." 

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Jeanne Wickline LaBella
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