Remember when you had to walk across the room to adjust the rabbit ear antenna to get a better TV signal? Now, imagine trying to hold a 120-foot antenna stable in 90 mile-an-hour winds that would lose its signal if it moved more than an inch.
That was the dilemma facing Xcel Energy’s Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) as they strategized creating a microwave connection to secure vital communications for a new substation in New Mexico in order to meet regulatory requirements. Without sufficient time to obtain federal and municipal approvals for a new fixed tower, Xcel Energy’s Business Systems team had to find a fast, reliable and accurate solution in the meantime.
When the Going Gets Tough…
A mobile technology solution called Tower on Wheels (TOW) was proposed to temporarily connect the microwave end points. The plan called for a microwave signal from the new substation to be relayed through several TOW units to an existing tower at another substation. But the TOW solution would only work if the towers could be stabilized enough to maintain a constant microwave signal to the communications network.
David Tryc, the project manager, worked with a vendor to create the TOW units from the ground up. Then he utilized his Air Force training and experience to devise a deployment plan. Each unit includes three sets of 32,000 pound anchor blocks, totaling 96,000 pounds each, and requires six trucks and trailers to transport. David mentions, “This unique solution is more common in overseas military operations than commercial ventures, but is one of a kind in the context of the utility industry.”
The TOW solution helped meet an important short-term need, while also providing a useful resource for similar future projects, as well as disaster recovery efforts. We’re especially proud to have amazing military veterans who share their innovative insights to help solve our challenges.