Contractors worked throughout the night to get a 400,000-pound transformer integral to the Valley’s power supply back on the road by this morning.
Crews waited for 12 hours Sunday for a new trailer equipped with a hydraulic stabilization system after the $2 million transformer toppled from its original trailer Saturday on a highway in Victorville, Calif. It was supposed to be moving again by midnight, but then the departure time was pushed back to 7 a.m. today as crews waited for three more cranes.
"It’s just been a major, major undertaking," said a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.
The latest snag will cause at least a two-day delay to getting the transformer into the Valley.
It is needed to stabilize the Valley’s energy supply.
"From an energy crunch standpoint it’s really not a significant loss," said Mark Fallon, a spokesman for Arizona Public Service, which will use the transformer. "It will allow us to go back to the original configuration which gives us more stability in the grid."
The transformer will likely arrive in the Valley sometime late this week and will take at least another three weeks to install. APS plans to have it up and running by mid-August, Fallon said.
The transformer, acquired from the Bonneville Power Administration in Tacoma, Wash., is needed to replace one of five transformers damaged in a fire at a West Valley substation July 4. Valley residents have been encouraged to conserve electricity during peak times until the stressed system is relieved.
The transformer nearly toppled on state Route 18 when the 142-wheel rig it was on approached an uphill turn at about 3 mph on the highway through Victorville and the kingpin attaching the trailer to the truck snapped under the pressure, Kasinga said.
When the load slipped, it drove parts of the steel frame carrying the transformer 8 to 12 inches into the pavement.
Kasinga said the transformer’s exterior appeared unharmed, but whether any of its interior components were damaged was not clear. Fallon said APS dispatched two engineers to inspect the transformer.
Four cranes were to move the transformer onto the hydraulic lift trailer, which then would take the transformer 15 miles past the steep uphill turn the original trailer couldn’t make. Then it was to be placed back on the original trailer and head toward the Westwing substation in the far West Valley.
Traffic has been detoured since the mishap at 9:20 a.m. Saturday. One lane in each direction should be open by this morning, Kasinga said.
"We want to get it out before commuter traffic (Monday)," said California Highway Patrol officer Matt Dietz. "Frankly, I wish it was gone already."