Formed in 1999, Great River Energy is the fifth largest energy cooperative in the U.S. with over 100 energy substations and 500 distribution substations. Great River Energy provides over 60 percent of the state of Minnesota with electricity with presence in North Dakota and Wisconsin. Great River uses a few different energy sources in their efforts; coal, biomass, natural gas/oil peaking plants, wind, and solar are the sources they choose to focus on. Great River Energy won an award for the 2010 Power Engineering Magazine’s Coal-Fired Project of the Year; that project also coined the term “Dryfining,” which explains the new technology created for improving the burning of coal to be more environmentally friendly.
Great River Energy hired ABB, Inc. (Construction Manager) to perform efficiency upgrades at two (2) of their energy substations, with one located in Buffalo, MN and the other located in Underwood, ND. The efficiency upgrades consisted of providing increased cooling within the substations to allow for a higher volume of electricity conversion (AC/DC) and distribution out to customers in an effort to keep up with high demand. Depending on the demand for electricity, the Buffalo, MN substation alone can distribute between 1 Million to 15 Million dollars in electricity daily; therefore, it is very critical to keep the substation operational throughout the construction project.
ABB, Inc. made an attempt to install waterproofing around new foundation pipe penetrations as a part of the efficiency upgrade process; due to the high ground water table and hydrostatic pressure, the waterproofing system installed was unsuccessful; therefore, ABB, Inc. hired RAM to provide a watertight solution; RAM removed the old foundation waterproofing system in its entirety and applied a high performance hot fluid-applied polymer rubber gel waterproofing system called Kingfield Construction Products Hydrogel Gel-Flex (GF-450), consisting of a 100 Mil thick layer of Hydrogel waterproofing membrane combined with an integrated dual composite HDPE protection cap sheet immediately embedded into the waterproofing membrane; the GF-450 waterproofing system allowed for quick application, exceptional flexibility, tenacious bondability, and advanced penetration resistance, especially under continuous hydrostatic pressure. Among other challenges, RAM faced a tight schedule long hours, and intense temperature conditions as this project took place in the middle of the Summer; with great team work and communication, RAM overcame challenges and completed a successful project.