Huntsville programs team up to ensure power for chemical demilitarization operations in Pueblo

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Sept. 6, 2016
The power delivery team performs a pre-energize safety walkdown prior to power transfer to transformer No. 3 at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Pueblo, Colorado.

The power delivery team performs a pre-energize safety walkdown prior to power transfer to transformer No. 3 at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Pueblo, Colorado.

In 2003, when the Chemical Demilitarization Program at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, started a project to build the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP)  in Colorado, safe and secure storage of the chemical munitions  was the remaining mission on the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Now, after years of design, construction and systemization, the plant is expected to begin operations this month. 

A power reliability risk assessment review by Huntsville Center’s Engineering Directorate in 2013 showed that if the depot’s cantonment area mission support and the PCAPP chemical demilitarization facility complex both were operating at full power demand, their collective electricity needs would exceed the capacity of the existing power system, said Steve Light, the Huntsville Center program manager for the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA).  A minimum of 10 MVA (mega volt amps) additional power capacity was needed to meet the mission needs of the PCAPP project and allow for some future growth.

“With the need established, we explored several alternatives,” Light said.  “One, we went back to Omaha District.  Working through Omaha would require a lengthy acquisition strategy; we were looking at a year’s worth of time to get that done before we could get the design and installation underway.

“We then looked at in-house alternatives within Huntsville Center’s contract capabilities,” Light said.  “We looked at Facilities Repair and Renewal to see if they could award construction of a power system.  Another program within the Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate – one that deals with power all the time – was the Utility Energy Services Contracting Program.  UESC offered some obvious alternatives to provide design and installation of a substation.  After considering all the viable options, UESC was selected as the delivery mechanism.”

“Chem Demil came to us and asked us to install a substation at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Colorado to take the load off the existing substation,” said Lisa Harris, the Huntsville Center’s UESC program manager.  “We used an existing General Services Administration areawide utility contract to award the project to Black Hills Energy in March.”

The Huntsville Center’s Energy Contracting Branch determined awarding under BHE’s GSA areawide was the most cost effective and efficient method of awarding the substation to enable PCAPP’s mission to stay on schedule. The six-month project will start closeout in September.  

BHE, the energy service provider, installed a 20MVA 115 kilovolt (kV) substation adjacent to the PCAPP existing substation, Harris said.  The new (third) substation is segregated from the existing 20 MVA PCAPP substation to demark the difference in ownership.  The Army will own, operate and maintain the new substation that will include a new independent switchgear/control house.  Two of the existing 13.8 kV feeders originating from the existing control house will be intercepted and rerouted to the new substation control house in order for the depot power to be separated from the PCAPP power.

“Installation required a lot of coordination,” Harris said.  “We had to execute critically timed power outages and coordinate outages with the installation and the PCAAP contractor, Bechtel, to assure no mission impacts.  We had to have a backup generator in place to ensure 100 percent operational capability.”

Due to the nature of the electrical work, extensive Huntsville Center Safety Office work was done by Will Eggleston, safety engineer, to coordinate electrical outage procedures and safety measures.

During the UESC project installation, Chem Demil and BHE team members called upon Sebesta Inc. for design, Hooper Corporation for installation, Electrical Power Systems for integrated system testing and Energy Systems Group (ESG) for project integration and management,” Light said.  “Billy Swinnea, ESG’s onsite project manager, did an extraordinary job to ensure everything was installed correctly and safely and ensure no mission upsets. Dave Micklewright, representing USACE’s Omaha District, was the government’s onsite quality assurance manager.

“This high performance team collectively contributed toward a very successful project,” Light said.  “Because of this team’s effort, we were able to deliver power requirements on time to assure mission execution of weapons destruction for PEO ACWA.”

The Explosive Destruction System (EDS), which augments the main plant by destroying munitions not suited for automated processing, started its first operational campaign in March 2015 and completed it in February 2016.   All stockpiled chemical weapons are expected to be destroyed by 2020.