Power Circuit Breaker in Switch Yard
The replacement of a sulfur-hexafluoride circuit breaker in the Dardanelle Switchyard was the first completed project under the EA MOA.

Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) were able to mark the “Complete” box late last year on the first project undertaken in a new partnership between the agencies under the Economy Act.

The replacement of a circuit breaker in the Corps’ Dardanelle Switchyard in Arkansas had been contemplated for some time, but since the breaker was operational – if a bit temperamental – the work was delayed until an arrangement was in place for Southwestern crews to lend a hand.

Enter the Economy Act Memorandum of Agreement (EA MOA). Southwestern and the six Corps Districts within Southwestern’s marketing area worked together to craft the EA MOA under the guidance of the Corps’ Southwestern Division, and it was signed by the parties in August 2021.

The EA MOA replaces several prior agreements between Southwestern and individual Corps Districts and allows Southwestern and the Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, Tulsa, and Vicksburg Districts of the Corps to provide work, goods, and services to each other under the authority of the Economy Act.

“This agreement represents a partnership between Southwestern and the Corps,” Ryan Hoog, Director of Southwestern’s Division of Maintenance, says. “It allows us to achieve a common goal of keeping Southwestern’s electrical grid in top shape and continuing to provide dependable electricity to Southwestern’s customers.”

Hoog explains that many people – both from Southwestern and the Corps – had a hand in completing the Dardanelle project, from testing and diagnosing the problem, to replacement and energization of the new circuit breaker and related equipment.

“The Gore Substation Crew worked with the Corps to test and diagnose the original power circuit breaker,” Hoog explains, “and Southwestern employees pitched in to complete the project on time and within budget. Southwestern Electrical Engineer Scott Holland played a major role in analyzing the system requirements to ensure proper equipment was installed during the replacement; Control Craftsman Robert Vanbrunt (Gore) and Todd Boling (Springfield) worked with the Gore Substation Crew to install the new equipment; and Electrical Engineer Curtis Poulson and the Gore Line Crew assisted with the installation of the lightning arrestors.”

The replacement of the circuit breaker at Dardanelle is the first of many projects that are underway to strengthen infrastructure and improve reliability of the transmission grid under the Economy Act MOA. Other projects include the replacement of disconnect switches at Beaver, testing and pole replacement on a circuit breaker at Sam Rayburn, and the removal and replacement of disconnect switches at DeGray.

“Southwestern continues to work diligently on requests submitted under the Economy Act MOA to ensure that our prompt assistance can be provided when available,” Nathan Tackett, EA MOA Coordinator for Southwestern, says. “The memorandum will continue and strengthen the partnership between Southwestern and the Corps to ensure reliability of the electrical infrastructure for many years to come.”