Ensuring Capacity to serve increased load
Over the last 10 years, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (YVEC) has placed over $45 million of capital investment into our total utility plant. We’ve built, updated, and concentrated on the main feeder lines coming out of multiple substations.
This maintenance has improved our power quality and increased our capacity to serve more electrical load, while also reducing our outage time significantly.
It would be easy to assume that all this investment has been focused on the west side of our service territory, extending from west Billings to the Park City area. However, a lot of work has also been completed in other areas of our electrical system.
YVEC has rebuilt the Billings Substation near Skyview High School. We improved one of the main feeders at Huntley Substation as well as Worden Substation, which ties the two substations together.
As a result of those projects, we have the capability to take the Worden Substation completely offline while rebuilding the Huntley Substation with a new power transformer, control building, regulators, and state-of-the-art breakers.
The trend of adding capital to our system has continued. In fact, we are in the top 10% of electric cooperatives in the country by investing a percent of total revenue into the total utility plant. In 2020, our total plant was $95 million and today our plant has grown to almost $115 million.
Keeping up with growth at an electric utility is complex. It is essential to stay ahead of growth, ensuring the plant has ample capacity to serve increased load well into the future, all while improving power quality and keeping outage time minimal. That is precisely why YVEC has purchased property in Park City. We see the need for additional capacity in that region as the electric load has grown due to new housing and the almost constant addition of irrigation pivots.
It is essential to stay ahead of growth, ensuring the plant has ample capacity to serve increased load well into the future, all while improving power quality and keeping outage time minimal.
As our plant has grown, so has our employee count. Recently, we added two new tree-trimmer groundmen, to work with our right-of-way crew, as the previous two groundmen were added to our line crew ranks. Additionally, after several years of using a contractor for directional boring, we’ve added our own boring crew. This is currently a three-man crew with all the associated equipment. This will save time for our Cooperative and will help make new construction as well as maintenance, especially in subdivisions, much more efficient. Adding outside employees can put pressure on the office staff, and adding more customer service or accounting staff may be necessary.
YVEC takes providing service seriously. It is an interesting balance as we strive to be reliable and affordable, all while growing at a robust rate. To date, we’ve been very effective with the most competitive rates we’ve ever had. Our average residential member saves $30 per month, compared to NorthWestern Energy at the average consumption of 1,400 kWH per month. While we are proud of that, we will continue to serve you, the member, of this great Cooperative.
Brandon J. Wittman
Chief Executive Officer