Work continues this summer to build new infrastructure that will serve the largest load in the Corn Belt Power Cooperative system.
Prestage Foods of Iowa, a new pork processing plant and a member of Prairie Energy Cooperative, is now under construction along Highway 17 and County Road C56 southwest of Eagle Grove. At 22 megawatts, this will be the largest load served by a Corn Belt Power member co-op.
Corn Belt Power crews are building a 1.7-mile section of 69 kilovolt line from the existing Troy Substation. This past spring, they upgraded transformers and regulators at the facility and added another bay, increasing the number of line feeds available from four to seven.
Corn Belt Power personnel are in the process of building the Prestage Family Substation and Switching Station to serve the new Prestage plant. Two 20 megavolt-ampere transformers and dual capacitor banks will strengthen reliability and keep the facility in service during maintenance work or an unplanned outage.
Although heavy rains and muddy conditions have slowed construction progress, the facility is still on schedule to be completed by Aug. 1.
Mike Finnegan, system electrical superintendent, comments, “Weather conditions have caused us to put a lot of rock in ahead of construction work. The rock makes it more difficult to put grounding and cable in. We’ve worked around the weather, though, and other projects like transformer and regulator upgrades are not being done right now. Prestage is the number one project we’re working on now.”
Finnegan also says that rented lifts with articulating booms have been helpful to speed the construction process and keep on it schedule, despite the wet weather conditions.
Corn Belt Power hired High Line, Paynesville, Minn., to build three sections of 69 kilovolt transmission line to serve the Prestage plant:
• a 12.25-mile section will extend from the Humboldt Switching Station east to the Eagle Grove Substation. The new line will replace an existing section of line originally built in the 1950s. This section of line is scheduled to be completed by October.
• a 4.1-mile of line from Prestage to Prestage North that runs north along Highway 17. This section of line will be in new right-of-way and is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 1.
• a 16.25-mile section of line from Prestage North to Willemssen Switching Station. This line will replace an existing line and is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 1.
All of the new transmission line will feature “TP” armless construction, with insulators connected directly to the power poles.
Bob Nielsen, transmission superintendent, comments, “The wet weather and muddy conditions have delayed work. The contractors brought in track equipment and they brought more people in who are working more hours.”
After the new construction is complete, work will begin to tear out a three-mile section of line from Eagle Grove Substation east to the point where the new line extends to Willemssen Switching Station.
Prestage Foods of Iowa announced in July 2016 it would build in the Wright County location and employ more than 900 people, benefit the local economy in excess of $58 million annually, provide farmers with a competitive outlet for their products and draw additional industries to the area.
The plant is expected to be online by the end of 2018. The company’s $240 million investment will include a 650,000-square-foot facility on 160 acres located approximately five miles south of Eagle Grove. The operation will employ 922 people per shift with an estimated payroll in excess of $13 million annually. The estimated annual salaries start at $39,688.