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The “Impossible" Project

Brendonwood is referred to as “One of the best kept secrets in Indianapolis”. It is a beautiful neighborhood community adorned with hundreds, if not thousands of huge mature trees along rolling hills beside running streams. It’s not exactly what you would expect of a neighborhood inside the I-465 loop. It’s like you stepped into a state park, and it’s quite the sight during it’s full fall colors.

Most IPL linemen have been there, but not for sightseeing. If you ask an IPL troubleman what they think about Brendonwood, they are usually quick to respond with dreadful stories of long, rainy and/or snowy nights spent trying to get the power turned back on. The neighborhood is served with overhead primary distribution. It has been a reliability nightmare for years.

A three phase tap serves the entire neighborhood. Thousands of customer interruptions have occurred over the years, and many of those interruptions have been lengthy. There have been talks of burying the overhead primary lines for years, but there would be several complications associated with doing so. First of all, the subdivision is so old that there are no platted utility easements. All of the current overhead lines exist under prescriptive easements - which allow for maintenance of existing structures, but would not allow for burial of overhead distribution lines. In order to execute such a project, it was anticipated that nearly 100 individual easements would have to be acquired from property owners. In addition, the unique terrain offered some unique challenges. Steep hills, valleys, and creeks would require a careful environmental analysis and a skilled directional boring crew. Because of these reasons, many deemed the project “impossible”.

UTS Engineering proposed to design the “impossible” as a part of IPL’s electric grid modernization program. Something had to be done to improve reliability for the customers served in that area. In addition, IPL was spending a tremendous amount of maintenance dollars just keeping the lights on. It was calculated that the project would pay for itself in reduced maintenance costs in just three years.

For this project, UTS offered a turnkey design - land rights - construction oversight solution. Our engineering team designed an efficient layout of 32,822 feet of underground primary cable and 10,888 feet of underground secondary cable. The neighborhood would be fed by three single-phase primary loops. Our skilled team of land rights experts spent many hours educating customers on the benefits of the project, and was successful in acquiring the 78 easements needed to bury all of the overhead distribution lines. Finally, our construction team oversaw the project all the way until the underground loops were energized and the overhead lines were wrecked out. We did the impossible.


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