PG&E’s Moss Landing Substation is getting a major upgrade.
Moss Landing’s 115kv impact building is in the midst of changing over to a new SMP scheme, and is one of the first subs in the PG&E system to shift over to this new setup.
IBEW 1245 member Bill Roberts is an electrician at Moss Landing, where he works primarily on wiring for the new system.
“This is a ground-up build, just like a new 115 yard,” Roberts told the Utility Reporter. “The new stuff is all solid steel bracings. But if you look over there [at the old setup], it’s all lattice work. The difference is night and day.”
“It’s a whole new updated version of the yard,” Subforeman A Reggie Encallado, a 40-year member of IBEW, confirmed. “It’s going to replace the old breakers down there.”
So what makes this new system an improvement over the old one?
“The logic controllers are different, and it enables better remote access,” Roberts explained. “This is a breaker-and-a-half scheme, so they can isolate things a lot more. It’s more reliable.”
The GC crew at Moss Landing has been working on the project for more than a year. They did encounter some delays at the beginning, due to some late deliveries from the outside engineering firm, as well as a weather-related setback.
“When we first started last year, there was a big storm. They were doing the foundation work at the time, and this whole place was like a lake,” Encallado said, referring to the hefty flooding caused by the heavy rains. “It was quite a mess, and they couldn’t do anything for a while.”
Eventually, the site dried up and they were able to move forward with the job. Despite the delays, the project is back on track and is scheduled to be completed by the end of July.
“Our pre-work here is to get all the new structures and switches built, so eventually all the lines coming in to the old section will be rolled over to this new section,” said Encallado. “We’re about 90% done with the outdoor construction, but only 25% done with the wiring. That’s why I’ve got everybody wiring right now.”
Encallado has over four decades with the company, and he’s seen a lot of different changes over his lengthy tenure, from new equipment and procedures to a noticeable shift in the way that the workers are treated.
“Before, if there was work 500 miles from here, they didn’t care where you lived or who you were, they would send you over,” he recalled. “Nowadays they try and keep everyone close to home, which keeps them happy.”
Roberts appreciates the fact that the union empowers the workers to collectively advocate for themselves.
“Without a unified voice, we could lose our foothold and our livelihood at the drop of a hat,” he said. “But with one voice, we’re more powerful.”
Photos by John Storey