MUSCATINE, Iowa–The week of Aug. 7, Muscatine Power and Water plans to bring Transmission Line 106 on line for the first time. The completion of this long-term project will allow Muscatine Power and Water greater flexibility in selling excess power into the grid while also providing increased reliability should one of their transmission lines elsewhere get knocked out of service by severe weather.
Following a study conducted in 2016 that indicated Muscatine Power and Water would benefit from having an additional transmission line running in a different direction than their existing ones, the electric utility started exploring where they could add another one. They settled on north of the city, making it easy to connect up with infrastructure in Davenport.
With their location selected, Muscatine Power and Water started the process of getting voluntary easements from landowners, allowing them to construct parts of the line on their property. However, right as they prepared to get the final easement documents into the hands of landowners in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, delaying the utility’s efforts by about six months. “The most challenging part was COVID,” Muscatine Power and Water Director of Utility Service Delivery Ryan Streck recalled. Thanks to a whole lot of patience and flexibility, Muscatine Power and Water got all the voluntary easements signed and the project could once again progress.
In September 2021, Muscatine Power and Water broke ground for the project, and work progressed much more quickly from that point. Though materials shortages have plagued many projects, the Transmission Line 106 project continued on schedule, as some foresight into when to order the specialized parts for the job paid off. “We really got lucky there,” said Streck. “We ordered things so far in advance we didn’t experience any delays.” The preorders also prevented prices from going up on the pieces as well, keeping the project within budget.
As Transmission Line 106 gets closer and closer to completion, crews have started performing their last inspections. “Right now, we’re doing the last final check before we tie in the lines,” reported Streck.
Once the line goes live, it will provide important new opportunities. Recently, Muscatine Power and Water changed Units Seven and Eight at its power plant into peaking units, which only run during times with the highest energy demands. By having an additional transmission line, Muscatine Power and Water can use power from other sources when they take their primary generation unit, Unit Nine, offline for repairs. Muscatine Power and Water can now more easily get the excess energy they sell off into the grid, helping ensure reliability across the regional grid.
With Transmission Line 106 coming into service, Streck feels extremely proud of what Muscatine Power and Water has accomplished. “Honestly, it’s more exciting than you would think for me,” he shared. “Seeing this come together is one of the highlights of my career.”
Following the completion of Transmission Line 106, Muscatine Power and Water will focus their attention on building their Solar One installation, which will sit atop their Grandview Wellfield. “We really want to get that renewable up and running,” Streck emphasized. With additional tax credits coming into effect for solar projects, Streck hopes it will speed work on the installation along and give Muscatine an additional energy source.