A small HDD rig and box truck work near a rural Wisconsin road.

System Modernization Reliability Project (SMRP)

Wisconsin Public Service modernized and improved parts of their distribution system by burying lines in areas that had the lowest reliability throughout northern Wisconsin. When the work completed at the end of 2021, Michels upgraded nearly 1,000 miles of line. During the course of the contract, Michels has completed placement of new underground cable and duct by directional boring and plowing; setting of transformers and pedestals; splicing and terminating of new conductors; energization and cutover at customer homes; and removal of retired overhead facilities.

The typical construction season runs from April through December with limited work taking place in the winter months. Michels has completed an average of 120 miles each year, consisting of about 20 miles of three phase and 100 miles of single phase per year. Before construction begins, environmental control devices are installed and inspected for the entire WR. The boring crews are the first to start and are responsible for installing conduit in all necessary locations for road/driveway crossings, wetlands, waterways, congested areas, trees and anywhere else required by the terrain.

An install crew follows the boring crew and will install all new primary and secondary wire, set equipment, install services and make terminations. Wire is pulled into conduit or is installed by plowing or trenching. Once a WR is installed, a line crew starts to energize and cut the project over to the new underground system. They coordinate switching, contact customers/electricians and convert overhead to underground services as they move through the job. Once the entire job is cutover and overhead de-energized, the old overhead system is removed.

Restoration takes place immediately following all construction activities. Any removed and/or leftover material or equipment is returned to WPS’ storage facility. As-builts and final paperwork are submitted as soon as projects are completed.

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