Workers and linemen with contractors and energy provider Xcel Energy have been working at Fort McCoy in January to upgrade the installation’s electrical system, said Brandon Gronau with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division Energy Branch.
“We — Fort McCoy and Xcel — are in the process of changing from a Delta Electrical System to a Wye Electrical System,” Gronau said. “The basics of that is just how the system is wired. Wye is a three-phase electrical system that uses a wire for each electrical leg and a separate neutral wire. Delta is also a three-phase, but uses one of the legs as the neutral so it only has three wires.”
Gronau said Xcel wanted to do this because they are the installation’s electrical privatization contractor, and they own all of the electrical infrastructure on post.
“Delta can be an unreliable system and is outdated,” Gronau said. “We are the only Delta system that Xcel has in the state, so in order to standardize all of their equipment they made the decision to change us over, too.”
Gronau said the change is good for the installation, especially for the future.
“Fort McCoy’s part in this is resiliency,” Gronau said. “Because Xcel is changing everything anyway, we decided that we wanted to move all of our overhead electrical that is inside the cantonment area underground as part of our move to making Fort McCoy more energy resilient. So it just makes sense to do it all at the same time. We opted to only do the cantonment area, so they were replacing the poles on South Post to upgrade the infrastructure to support the change.”
In addition to building energy resiliency, Fort McCoy leaders are constantly looking at ways for energy efficiency as well, Gronau said. That’s where, when applicable, alternative energy sources like solar are incorporated around post.
“McCoy is looking to different technologies also,” Gronau said. “We are getting ready to run a pilot program for U.S. Army Reserve Command to test a combined heat and power (CHP) unit. A CHP is a generator-type unit that runs off of natural gas producing electricity where the heat generated from the motor is then used to provide hot water either for space heating or domestic water. So we can put a CHP in a building that has a high demand for hot water, and in turn, power a portion of the building for the price of the same natural gas consumed originally within the building to heat its hot water demand, equating to free electricity. While providing a cost savings for Fort McCoy, it also provides electric resiliency for powered circuits during an electric utility outage for that building.”
Other areas are also always being reviewed, Gronau said. Work on the grid upgrades will continue during 2022.
Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
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