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Oncor prepares for future electric needs

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Posted: Saturday, November 13, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:17 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - Oncor Electric Delivery Service is rebuilding five miles of lines, some of which will run through Harker Heights Community Park.

Oncor is replacing the wooden H-frame poles that carry transmission lines from the Harker Heights substation on Roy Reynolds to the new Killeen switch, which is located on Featherline Road, said John Toone, Oncor area manager.

The electric transmission system upgrade will help meet demands of future growth, he said. The new poles will hold heavier lines that will allow more electricity to serve the area.

"A wire to (Oncor) is like a highway is to (the Texas Department of Transportation)," Toone said. "Except we can't have any traffic jams or someone's electricity is going to go out. We have to stay ahead of development."

Oncor has done several of these upgrades in the Killeen-Temple area during years past, Toone said. And while this project backs up to 235 properties, it should be one of the least obtrusive ones done in the area.

Most of the time when Oncor performs these pole upgrades, workers and engineers find that people have built into Oncor's easements for the lines and poles. That was not the case this time, Toone said.

The project goes through the Harker Heights Community Park. But, because of planning, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

The first phase of the park construction project was finished last year. But planning for the transmission line upgrades actually took place well in advance, in 2007, even as the park was being designed, Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Bark said.

"Oncor told the city where we were going to put these new poles, and they built around them, so we don't have places where we would stick them through the parking lot or anything," Toone said.

The construction that will be taking place at the park shouldn't cause any change to the recreational activities, Bark said.

"We have adult softball leagues going on right now, and it will not hinder anything that we are doing Parks and Recreation-related," he said.

For the construction of these poles, the contractor first places stumps in the ground, and then comes back with a crane to erect a pole, Toone said. There is plenty of room to work at the park, so people may only see equipment surrounding the pole as it is built.

"Oncor may work (the park site) during the week, because parks may get used a lot during the weekend," Toone said. "The only danger would be someone getting into a fender bender with our equipment. The first thing our contractors and our people do is look out for the safety of the public."

The new poles are made out of steel, stand about 20 feet taller than the wooden H-frames, and can be upgraded in future to handle additional transmission lines as demand increases.

Oncor has to take the lines out of commission before it can work, which means that there is no electricity traveling across the wires. The construction also must be completed by January, so the area can meet the electricity demand during the winter.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.

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