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Boosting the Oilers' Power Play

November 02, 2015
Published In: Corporate Responsibility

You won't see their names on an Oiler jersey, but a full roster of EPCOR planners and crews have been hard at work to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to the city's core and the new Rogers Place arena itself.

With a sold-out crowd of 18,500, the arena will draw about the same amount of power as six grocery supermarkets combined. And that's in a downtown core already experiencing unprecedented construction and growth – and, demanding more power.

Rogers Place power statistics!For their part, the Oilers Entertainment Group and the City of Edmonton have applied a series of environmental initiatives to the arena project to reduce consumption and achieve "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) Silver rating.

As for EPCOR: "This was one of the most challenging projects we've ever had," said AJ Ould, Project Execution Manager at the Customer Connections group.

It's wasn't just the huge size or the time constraints - those alone were pretty tough. But stickhandling a whole new electrical circuit through downtown Edmonton was like Connor McDavid trying to thread his way through a stingy Nashville Predators' defence, anchored by Shea Weber.

The main electrical feed to the arena will come from the substation in the River Valley below downtown. But that's no straight breakaway. Power routes are easily blocked by obstacles such as buildings or other infrastructure like natural gas or communication lines.

"We had to work around the busiest roads downtown, transit routes and the new LRT construction," said James Price, EPCOR Distribution Manager of Network. "A lot of the time, we could only get access over night."

Planners looked to run the new circuits through existing duct lines, but that was sometimes a bit of a puzzle. Often all ducts in a particular vault were already full, servicing Edmonton's burgeoning downtown. That forced the team to go in different directions. Crews zig-zagged almost four kilometres of new cable through 31 manholes, including four that had to be newly installed.

By early November, EPCOR's work to power Rogers Place will be essentially complete.

A backup feed comes from a nearby substation.

Each time the puck drops, Rogers Place will be the largest single consumer of electricity in downtown Edmonton, a fact that supports the need for adding the new circuit.

Electricity flows around Edmonton through more than 5,390 km of primary distribution lines, serving about 369,000 customers. Looking at the system as a whole – all customers, around the clock, all year – the power is on 99.9% of the time.

And as far as AJ Ould is concerned, he's done all he can to ensure that when an Oiler defenceman fires one from the blue line, the lamp will light up.

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