T&D World Magazine

Fort Mojave Tribal Utility to Install 3M’s High-Capacity ACCR Conductor

Aha Macav Power Services, a utility owned and operated by the Fort Mojave Tribe in the southwest, will become the first Native American utility to deploy 3M aluminum conductor composite reinforced (ACCR), a revolutionary heat-sag-resistant overhead conductor that can carry more than twice the power of conventional lines of the same diameter.

Under an agreement with the Western Area Power Administration (Western), Aha Macav will install a new four-mile 3M ACCR line linking a new substation in Arizona to a switchyard in Needles, CA., a city on the western bank of the Colorado River. The new line will substantially boost power capacity and reliability for Needles and the surrounding area, which have been plagued by frequent electricity outages in recent years, often during periods of extreme high temperature.

“This is one of the most important and exciting projects we’ve seen here in many years,” said Robert Walker, utility manager, city of Needles. “It will end our power constraint and open up a world of possibility in terms of economic development.”

William Cyr, general manager, Aha Macav Power Services, said the project “provides a great benefit, both to our residents on the Fort Mojave Indian reservation and our neighbors in Needles. 3M ACCR represents a substantial technological advance in power transmission reliability that will contribute to economic growth and reduce the danger of power failures that pose a threat to health and safety.”

The Fort Mojave Tribe, whose reservation encompasses portions of eastern California, southern Nevada and western Arizona, is one of only a handful of tribes served by its own utility. Installation of the 3M ACCR is scheduled for September 2007.

Seven major U.S. utilities are already using or installing 3M ACCR, including Arizona Public Service in Phoenix, and Western, which is employing it to upgrade the reliability of the 80-mile Topock-Davis-Lake Mead line that parallels the Colorado River along Arizona’s western border with California and extends to Boulder Dam. The Aha Macav ACCR line will be linked to Western’s Topock-Davis-Lake Mead ACCR line.

Tim Koenig, who heads 3M’s composite conductor business, said deployment of 3M ACCR by utilities across the nation is accelerating because of the technology’s proven performance under a wide range of rugged climate conditions.

“We are excited to see 3M ACCR chosen as the solution to power this region, which experiences extremely hot temperatures. This is a new connection to Needles that did not exist previously, giving the city access to a low-cost, reliable power supply," Koenig said. He noted also that 3M ACCR has already had significant exposure to extreme southwest desert conditions, having been extensively field tested in Arizona by Western and the Salt River Project near Phoenix. “Lines in Phoenix and in Minneapolis have been subjected to extremely high electrical loads, particularly during the summer heat wave, and have consistently and reliably performed as expected.”

3M ACCR was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, which tested the conductor at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, and with early contributions by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The ORNL tests demonstrated the conductor’s integrity after exposure to temperatures even higher than the rated continuous operating temperature of 210 degrees Celsius, which provides a significant safety factor. The fact that 3M ACCR is based on aluminum means the conductor is not adversely affected by environmental conditions, such as moisture or UV exposure, and it has the durability typically associated with aluminum-based conductors.

3M ACCR’s strength and durability result from its aluminum oxide (alumina) fibers, which are embedded in the high purity 3M aluminum matrix core wires, utilizing a highly specialized and patented process. The constituent materials are chemically compatible with each other and can withstand high temperatures without adverse chemical reactions or any appreciable loss in strength.

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