The Ameren Illinois Roxford substation. The infrastructure project included substation upgrades and new transmission structures. Photo by Ameren.
The Ameren Illinois Roxford substation. The infrastructure project included substation upgrades and new transmission structures. Photo by Ameren.

Unique Solutions Guide Infrastructure Upgrades

April 8, 2024
Ameren Transmission works with partner to replace a transmission tower and upgrade a substation, with a positive impact on the Diverse Supplier Program along the way.

Significant infrastructure changes and substation upgrades are improving reliability for thousands of Ameren Illinois customers in the River Bend region of western Illinois. The US$6.8 million substation and line project included rerouting several transmission circuits and several equipment upgrades, ranging from breakers and switches to conductors and relays.

The project required rerouting three of five 138-kV circuits supported by a single structure. Working closely with diverse supplier LUZCO Technologies LLC, Ameren found new routing solutions to avoid conflicts with railroad lines, gas pipelines and water pipelines in the area.

Complex Design Process

John Waterhouse, senior director of transmission operations and maintenance for Ameren, said the previous tower supported five transmission lines.

“Energy reliability for our customers is a top priority for Ameren,” Waterhouse said. “A failure on the previous structure would have resulted in a significant loss of load at a nearby refinery. Our project team was able to identify new routes for each circuit in a heavily congested area, secure the real estate and permits necessary to reroute the lines and successfully install each of the new structures.”

Prior to the project, a single lattice tower supported five 138-kV circuits. To improve reliability, the project team routed three of the five circuits from the lattice structure. Because of the congestion in the area, distribution circuits also were moved to maintain appropriate clearances from the transmission lines. In addition to line work, substation upgrades included new breakers, disconnect switches and relays in a neighboring substation.

Nearby transportation infrastructure further complicated the already complex design process. The lattice tower was approximately 20 ft (6 m) from an active railroad.

“Various circuits were not the only cause of congestion at the original substation. Railroad lines and underground utilities created additional complexities for the project team,” noted Jason Rogers, vice president, LUZCO. “The railroad is an active route and, because safety is always our top priority, we took extra precautions throughout construction. The team was able to complete the project without any safety incidents by implementing the appropriate controls and clearances.”

Buried utilities also impacted the design and construction methodologies used in this project.

“We worked with the natural gas and water utilities to create and construct complicated designs to maintain the appropriate distances,” Rogers explained. “The engineering team was able to do this by implementing unique designs for steel monopoles and designs for connections in the substation. In addition, the design team had to complete several distribution line reroutes using composite and laminated poles.

“The engineering team and construction contractors really came together to lay the groundwork and guide the project to successful completion,” Rogers added.

Diverse Supplier Program

Serving as project manager for Ameren’s new substation, LUZCO’s team was responsible for overall execution from project initiation through closeout. This included leading project team members in the development of an execution plan, executing the project schedule, identifying risks and mitigation plans, completing contracts and procurements, permitting and construction.

Ameren worked with the LUZCO team to complete the project on time and under budget. “I’m so proud of our team for completing another project safely,” said Lus Haberberger, founder and CEO of LUZCO. “We are so grateful to partner with Ameren and other strategic contractors on this project that is improving reliability for residents and businesses.”

Haberberger founded the engineering firm in 2017. A Venezuelan-American engineer living in the U.S. and navigating the challenges faced by women in the demanding working culture, she envisioned a workplace that embraced a family-oriented environment and delivered exceptional results. Fueled by this vision, she founded LUZCO, embarking on a transformative journey.

At that time, Ameren was searching for qualified diverse contractors. This marked the genesis of a successful partnership, with LUZCO joining Ameren’s diverse supplier program. The synergy created from this partnership — coupled with mentorship in comprehensive business management and exposure to the diverse Ameren business segments — laid a robust foundation for exponential growth.

"Ameren’s support has been a cornerstone in LUZCO’s success,” Haberberger said. “The leaders at Ameren have demonstrated genuine interest in sustainability, growth and community impact.”

This collaboration propelled LUZCO to sustainable growth, earning acclaim as an award-winning, certified woman-owned and minority-owned boutique engineering firm. The company now proudly operates from offices in Missouri, Kansas and New York, growing from one to 111 employees.

Over the span of six years, LUZCO has achieved a collection of prestigious awards, including recognition from the St. Louis Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, SBA-St. Louis, Small Business Monthly, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers and the Edison Electric Institute.

Notably, by 2023, based on revenue, LUZCO had secured the 22nd spot in the list of largest minority-owned businesses in St. Louis.

Looking Ahead

LUZCO aims to perpetuate the value acquired through Ameren’s Diverse Supplier Program and envisions a role beyond its own success — by nurturing new leaders and mentoring smaller businesses to foster growth within the dynamic landscape of the engineering industry. LUZCO is not just a success story; it is a testament to the power of diversity and resilience in shaping the future of business.

Chris Yount ([email protected]) is a seasoned professional with expertise in relationship building and stewardship. Yount came to LUZCO with 16 years of business development experience. She quickly advanced her knowledge of the utility industry, while serving as a project management analyst on several large projects. She was later promoted to operations manager and now leads LUZCO’s business development and marketing efforts as the director of Business Development & Marketing.

Emily Rau ([email protected]) is a communications specialist at Ameren Corp.

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