Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks, CA has around 20 well sites spread over 250 square miles that provide fresh water to the Moorpark and Thousand Oaks area. In the entire existence of the well sites, there has never been a source of standby emergency power in the event that their utility company experiences an emergency shutdown. In the event of a catastrophic power outage, the Calleguas MWD wouldn’t be able to operate any of their wells.

Project Overview

The Wellfield Emergency Generators project, design by Kennedy Jenks and constructed by Stronghold Engineering, was managed by Stronghold Project Manager, Billy Bumby and Superintendent Rocky Hawkins. The project was created to install five 2MW 5kV generators as a source of standby power for all of the well sites. The generators are equipped with PLC control logic, which continuously observes the generators; if a power outage occurs, the generators automatically start.

The generators were one of the largest components of the project, but the entire project consisted of building a facility to house all of the new equipment, introducing five brand new generators, and adding four 20,000 gallon diesel fuel tanks to keep the generators running.

The 80,000 gallons of standby diesel fuel harbored in the tanks will allow the generators to operate for up to three days in the event of a catastrophic power outage. The tanks are outfitted with an electronic system that monitors fuel levels in said tanks; when low fuel levels are detected, new diesel can be brought in before the tanks empty and stop fueling the generators. Thanks to this system, the generators, and in turn all of the well sites, can run for an indefinite amount of time.

Impact on the Community

This new generator site gives Calleguas MWD flexibility in keeping well sites operational. It is the most substantial upgrade—the only upgrade—in the sites’ existence. The new system replaces the original service design of two distribution systems connected to all of the sites through utility feeders spread throughout underground duct-bank systems. This outdated system provided each with a standalone, metered power source.

Stronghold’s Notable Contributions

In addition to the construction of the project, Stronghold had some key input regarding the designs for the project. Stronghold made suggestions regarding the constructivity of the generator building, how the generator feeders, control conductors, miscellaneous power conductors, and the paralleling switchgear operate.

At no cost, Stronghold installed trenching, complete with customized, removable lids. The company was involved in how the system operates, assisted with modifications to the fuel system to correct flaws in the original design, and made recommendations as to how the underground duct-bank systems ended up being routed. Throughout the course of this project, Stronghold was quick to offer suggestions and help where it was needed.

Challenges and Triumphs

The biggest challenge Stronghold faced was the scheduled “no shutdown periods,” a six-week period sometime in the first half of the year and a three-month period in the summer. During these four and a half months out of the year, they weren’t allowed to have any loss of power at the well sites. For Stronghold, this meant that their constant removal and installation of equipment had to be timed perfectly so that power was always running before a no shutdown period began.

Efficient planning and early procurement of supplies kept them out of those dark periods; if not, they would have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a contingency power plan to power all 20 well sites.

Stronghold received the notice to proceed on October 31, 2017. The original field completion date was April 28, 2020 but due to rain delays and other modifications was pushed back to September 14, 2020. Stronghold completed construction on the project on August 29, 2020.

Visit Stronghold’s Projects page for information on current and past projects.