Pivoting to expand capacity and meet increasing demand

A crane carries a large, green electrical box as two workers in high visibility safety gear watch on.

A crane lifts a transformer onto a concrete pad.

Giving our customers Energy for Life means expanding our service to keep up with demand in our growing communities — but it also means making sure our customers get the most value for their dollar. In the case of some recent planned work at Tim Sale DSC, our employees did both.

An upgrade at the Tim Sale distribution supply centre (DSC) — planned to accommodate increasing customer demand in the Waverley West area of Winnipeg — is intended to double the capacity of the existing DSC by installing a second complete set of equipment onsite.

The project was slated to be complete by December 2022. But as with any project, sometimes delays happen — and on some projects, giving our customers Energy for Life means being agile and reallocating our resources elsewhere until the time is right to see the project through.

Three people in hi-visibility clothes work on a wood base frame for a transformer in a gravel lot.

Crew prepares the formwork for one of the concrete pads.

Enlarge image: Three people in hi-visibility clothes work on a wood base frame for a transformer in a gravel lot.

With supply chain issues affecting our stock of arrestors, the Tim Sale project team had to consider needs elsewhere in our grid — and adjust their project timeline to make the best use of our available inventory.

Arrestors is short for lightning arrestors. They’re devices used to divert the surge of a lightning strike around the equipment and into the ground or earth.

“The arrestors originally intended to be installed at Tim Sale, but were needed elsewhere for an emergency situation,” said Nicki Caron, the project manager for the Tim Sale station upgrades. “The emergency situation meant that more arrestors had to be ordered, but they wouldn’t show up right away — so the project’s intended in-service date of December 2022 would have to be delayed.”

The new equipment at the Tim Sale DSC could have been energized without the arrestors. The risk of lightning in December is low, according to our HVDC Statistics & Lightning Specialist Chad Gislason.

However, installing the DSC equipment without arrestors would have meant additional work for our construction and operations crews down the road. They would need to redeploy to install the arrestors later, sometime after the DSC had already been energized.

Providing Energy for Life means considering our customers in all we do — and considering what’s best for all our customers around the province. Sometimes, that means deferring projects and redeploying resources to optimize elsewhere when the conditions for a project aren’t quite right.

“Combined with the fact we were heading into Christmas shutdown and there were a lot of customer service extensions on the board, we made the decision to delay the in-service date, wait for the arrestors, avoid the additional work, and re-pivot the construction crews to customer service jobs,” said Nicki.

When it comes to the decision-making process for finishing the Tim Sale DSC project — effectively doubling the supply of electricity in the Waverley West neighbourhood — teamwork will continue to play a part.

“While we wait for the new arrestors, part of our decision-making process is asking Chad Gislason to provide us with an idea of when the risk of lightning strikes starts to climb as then we’ll need to protect our equipment,” Nicki said. “Additionally, we consulted Winnipeg Planning and the Fort Garry Customer Service Centre, who confirmed that a delay on this project would not compromise any aspect of our grid and our ability to serve our customers.”

Nicki emphasizes that what’s happening with Tim Sale DSC is not an isolated example.

“We’re often making tradeoffs and re-prioritizing materials and in-service dates — but these decisions are always made with our customers in mind and a steadfast commitment to providing Energy for Life for all of Manitoba.”

Tim Sale DSC was energized in May 2023 and is now in service.