Barry Electric gets $56 million loan

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

USDA funds for system improvements throughout area

Barry Electric was recently approved to receive $56 million in federal loans from the USDA to expand and modernize its infrastructure.

"It's under the normal loan process that we do with our work plan every four to five years," said Bill Shiveley, CEO and general manager of Barry Electric.

Shiveley said the loan amount is more than what the co-op usually requests because it includes their System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) project, energy efficiency project and smart grid project, which includes some of the fiber optics they have been working to implement in the area.

According to Shiveley, the system improvements earmarked for completion will be a long-term project.

"It could be five to seven years getting this done," he said.

But, the improvements will translate into improved services for co-op members.

"It is [mostly] for normal equipment we use every day that wears out and has to be replaced, and facilities upkeep and normal maintenance," he said. "The loan is about $56 million, but that doesn't mean we'll do it all. You do the project first, then you get reimbursed, so we may not use that much. That's just what all of these projects total up to."

Included in the list of projects are the following:

Electric services

* 120 new underground services and 10 miles of line underground

* 448 overhead services and 18 miles of overhead line in new services

There will also be 28 miles of conversions of single-phase copper to single-phase No. 2 aluminum conductor steel reinforced (ACSR).

Funding for SCADA would cover controls in all seven of the co-op's seven substations and communications for the downstream regulators, capacitors and oil circuit reclosers.

"We did not have those before," Shiveley said. "It is because of our [fiber] communication project, so this is a new project for us. We had a very small and very simple SCADA system where all we could do was look at our substations and get information from them, but with these improvements, we'll be able to get information from downstream regulators, capacitors and oil circuit reclosers. All we could do was just monitor what was happening, so now we'll be able to control voltage and have a better handle on when we see outages and things like that."

Normal system improvements

* 720 new transformers

* 1600 new meters

* 800 increased service capacity upgrades

* 104 normal line equipment upgrades

* 2,400 pole replacements

"We annually change out poles because they rot, get woodpecker holes or split," Shiveley said. "Some will last 15 years, and some, 40. But, we get around our system to check our poles every five years to keep track of those that are bad and change those out. It's nothing unusual. It's just what we do every few years [to take care of the system].

"There's also about 1,000 miles of communications equipment, which is the fiber that's used for system control, data acquisition, energy efficiency and smart grid, and we use the excess of that for our fiber-to home projects."

A total of $108 million was awarded for three co-ops in the state of Missouri. The announcement was made by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week while he was at a news conference in Savannah.

United Electric Co-operative in Savannah received a $28 million loan, and The Northeast Missouri Electric Power Co-operative in Palmyra received a $24 million loan.

Vilsack says the Missouri projects will build or improve more than 300 miles of power lines. Some $42 million goes to smart grid technologies, which include next-generation power transmission efforts.

Shiveley said Barry Electric currently enjoys high approval ratings from its members.

"Every three years, our power supplier does a survey of our members and we got it back here recently, and we received a 9.17 out of 10 rating for our members, and we're higher than most of the other co-ops in the system in the state of Missouri," Shiveley said.

There are about 40 other co-ops in the state, which are owned by their members and provide electricity to individual homes, farms and businesses.

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