High-Altitude Electrical


This article was originally published in the Current Connections Fall 2019 issue.

Interstates’ Fort Collins, CO, office has been busy collaborating with the City of Greeley on updates to its Boyd Lake water treatment plant in Loveland, CO. Working with general contractor Hydro Construction, based in Fort Collins, Interstates provided electrical construction services on this project.

The Boyd Lake water treatment facility in Loveland provides seasonal drinking water to Greeley water customers – up to 38 million gallons per day. Raw water supply comes from both Boyd Lake and Lake Loveland. The treated water from this plant is then pumped to the city’s finished water reservoirs. The Boyd Lake plant is used as a peaking plant during the highwatering season (late spring, summer, and early fall) and is also a backup in case the main plant in Bellvue, 18 miles away, is down. The Boyd Lake facility was built in 1974 and has had a few upgrades over the years.

The City of Greeley needed to update aging equipment in various parts of the water treatment plant. Interstates reconfigured the filter building, replacing a 75HP variable frequency drive (VFD) for a backwash pump. In the
high-service pump station, motors were being fed from nearly 40-year-old switchgear that was at its end of life. Interstates replaced antiquated medium voltage switchgear with new medium voltage switchgear, and new medium voltage VFDs. The crew then refed all the equipment in that building. “We replaced the medium voltage switchgear with large, 4160-volt VFDs to pump water from this facility to Greeley, about 20 miles away,” says Nick Wathier, Project Manager at Interstates.

The crew also installed new electrical in the treated water return vault. Eric Novotny, Superintendent at Interstates, explains, “When the plant was meeting demand, it would dump all the clean water back into the lake. Now, instead of doing that, they are able to shut the incoming water off and dump the clean water back into the plant, circulating the clean water until the City of Greeley needs it. This will save them a significant amount of money.”

Tight working windows and long lead times caused scheduling headaches. The new medium voltage switchgear and new VFDs arrived later than originally scheduled. “That caused us to have to do some work out of sequence,” says Wathier. “We had to install all conduit, tray, and cable prior to the switchgear being installed in order to stay on track with the schedule.” Once the MCC did arrive, the project’s structural engineer had concerns that the equipment would be too heavy to sit on the concrete pad prepared for it. “It was a challenging scenario. We had to consider how to get the MCC to the pad, if we needed special equipment, if we could even roll it on. There was talk of removing the building’s roof to crane the MCC in. In the end, we did get approval from the engineers to get it into the building using regular means,” says Wathier. “The company that built the MCCs had never built anything of this size, so they did not know what it weighed until complete,” added Eric Novotny.

Interstates had some ideas how to make up for lost time. The project was designed to have conduit running from the medium voltage MCC to the motors it feeds. “We proposed running cable tray and cable instead of conduit. This saved a good amount of time and dollars,” says Wathier. Having the Interstates panel shop build a control panel offsite also reduced manhours in the field.

Finishing on time and budget is always a priority, but Wathier had additional measures of the project’s success: “We had no safety incidents or accidents on this job, and that’s important. We also formed solid relationships with the client and general contractor.”


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