Electricians give post jolt of electricity
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Suited up in fire retardant flash suits, voltage-rated gloves, and hearing and eye protection, the only Prime Power unit in the Army keeps LSA Anaconda's electrical current operational.
The 2nd Detachment, Company B, 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) here assesses the high voltage electricity needs for LSA Anaconda; they produce, supply and maintain that energy.
"The work of Prime Power entails supporting the Army in its warfighting and disaster relief and support of [the Department of Public Works] and base electrical operations," said Staff Sgt. Devon A. Mayers, Prime Power supervisor.
Before Prime Power can run electricity through a facility, the Soldiers must know the energy demands for that facility. This requires assessment of the number of air-conditioners, televisions, coffeepots, radios and like items.
With this determination made, lines are run from a power plant to the secondary distribution center to a transformer, which breaks down the electrical current to the appropriate voltage. From the transformer the electrical current goes straight into the panel boxes of the designated facilities.
These electrical demands are met by two power plants on post, one run by Prime Power and another that is leased to International American Products, a contractor.
Prior to arrival of Prime Power, there was an increased occurrence of people getting shocked.
They have made many improvements, and still more needs to be done.
Some power outages are the result of faults in the line that cause interruptions in electrical flow. People digging without an approved dig permit often cause these faults.
"We do a lot of repairs because people go ahead and dig anyway. We have a 1,000-volt line buried, and a few people have hit it. Luckily no one's been killed," said Thomas.
Prime Power approves and disapproves dig permits after inspecting the proposed site and making sure that the excavators won't stumble upon a high-voltage wire.
"It's customary for high-voltage wires to be buried three to six feet deep. A lot of them here aren't as deep as they should be, so we go out with cable locaters and determine where they are, how deep they are and how many volts they are," said Thomas.
Soldiers from Prime Power have installed more than 300 miles of high-voltage cable since April.
Prime Power helps keep the Soldiers of LSA Anaconda in as comfortable a lifestyle as possible in a combat zone.
"Without Prime Power, LSA Anaconda would probably be on generator power, which would cost a lot more money," Thomas said.
As much as people appreciate having electricity, there are many responsibilities and safety precautions that accompany the luxury. Soldiers should never take it upon themselves to decide to do wiring themselves, or dig without the approval of Prime Power, Facility Engineer Team-15 or the Department of Public Works.
Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Sgt. Justin M. Moore, an electrician from the 249th Engineer Battalion, repairs a bypass oil filter hose on an MEP-208A 750-kilowatt power generator. (US Army photo by Pfc. Leah R. Burton)