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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was overseeing a very long term rehab of a large commercial property which has been in the works since 2011. It had begun under previous ownership in a very small town where it is hard to get things done.. Like inspections or getting contractors to show up more than once a month.

We installed 3 new transformers on the campus and new MDP and several new main panels. We also replaced a bunch of "new" conduit which no longer met code.

We got all our approvals, passed inspection with the city, passed inspection with the provider [El Paso Electric out of Texas] - and then when the provider came out to look at our cutover plan they discovered our panel wasn't high enough voltage. We had already made a specific change just to satisfy their engineer, installing a redundant main breaker in the MDP. Our engineer said it was unnecessary but I ate the few thousand dollars just to make the provider happy. So that meant we spent a few thousand to upgrade the MDP which was approved by El Paso electric - until later they determined it wasn't high enough voltage. [The MDP handled 480 volts and we needed 600]. I don't know how our engineer missed it, or if he did miss it?

So fast forward over $7k in parts and $3k in labor later, we have our new 600v MDP ready to roll.

My question is - what happened? Did El Paso Electric change something on their end in the meantime? Or was it only our engineer and 3 inspectors who didn't notice?

We have just sold the property and I want to be able to provide as much information to the new owners as possible. They will be inheriting the cutover activity.
 

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Something sounds a bit strange to me.

Apparently, they wanted a 600-volt rating on the equipment?

Yet only the breaker was changed?

I would get way more information.

Do you have anything in writing about why the change was made?

If you tell the new owner about this, he may, and probably can, back out of the deal.

You need to obtain more information from the engineer or utility company, because your statement doesn't make a whole lot of sense. ( to me, anyway)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Something sounds a bit strange to me.

Apparently, they wanted a 600-volt rating on the equipment?

Yet only the breaker was changed?

I would get way more information.

Do you have anything in writing about why the change was made?

If you tell the new owner about this, he may, and probably can, back out of the deal.

You need to obtain more information from the engineer or utility company, because your statement doesn't make a whole lot of sense. ( to me, anyway)
It is confusing to me and I am here, but that's not quite right.

New MDP 1 was 480 volts, mounted on the wall next to the old MDP which feeds the old transformers.

New MDP 1 was approved by the city more than once, and the El Paso Electric Engineers at least once. During that time we added an extra main breaker into MDP 1 to satisfy the El Paso Electric engineer.

After that work, we passed another inspection with the city, and El Paso Electric came on site again to work with our contractor on the cut-over plan.

The El Paso Electric engineer at that time noticed our panel was only 480V.

So did they never check before or did they upgrade their equipment in the meantime and decide to let us eat the cost on our side?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Do you have anything in writing about why the change was made?

If you tell the new owner about this, he may, and probably can, back out of the deal.
The new owners were given all the detail about this that I could provide during the escrow walk through.

WRT 'why the change was made' - I oversaw the ordering and installation of MDP 2 which satisfies El Paso Electric, and we have been approved by the city again. That cost us $10k and 5 months, but most of that was supply chain issues.
 

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What was the old equipment rated for? Some breakers have inrush current ratings based on voltage and some breakers have multiple voltage ratings. I do not recall the corresponding AIC but you can have a breaker rated at 250 volts - 480 volts - 600 volts. Could they have meant you did not have the right AIC for the voltage you have. Many times inspectors do not fully look at things. Even electricians miss things. I once ordered a Trans S meter cabinet and they shipped a Con Edison approved one and I needed PSE&G one. It was boxed wrong. I installed it and it went through 2 inspections. It wasn't until they went to energize it that it was picked up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What was the old equipment rated for? Some breakers have inrush current ratings based on voltage and some breakers have multiple voltage ratings. I do not recall the corresponding AIC but you can have a breaker rated at 250 volts - 480 volts - 600 volts. Could they have meant you did not have the right AIC for the voltage you have. Many times inspectors do not fully look at things. Even electricians miss things. I once ordered a Trans S meter cabinet and they shipped a Con Edison approved one and I needed PSE&G one. It was boxed wrong. I installed it and it went through 2 inspections. It wasn't until they went to energize it that it was picked up.
Our equipment was rated for the facility which was built in 1967. Then renovated as many times as the territory allowed it.

The major conversion to the facility was to supplement PTAC units for individual units to replace the deprecated central chilling/heating system.
 

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Our equipment was rated for the facility which was built in 1967. Then renovated as many times as the territory allowed it.

The major conversion to the facility was to supplement PTAC units for individual units to replace the deprecated central chilling/heating system.
Was the original facility built with 575 volts or was it 480 volts? Are the new transformers utility supplied and installed? What is the output voltage on the transformers? Maybe I am reading it wrong but it sounds like the engineer messed up or someone did now follow the engineered prints. However the electrical contractor should be familiar with what equipment to use. How does one order service equipment without knowing the voltage and available fault current? No disrespect intended but were the owners cutting corners and using non electrical people to do the work? Interesting situation and I am curious to see what happened.
Another theory is internal communication problems at the utility. We had that during Covid. About 25% of the utility planners here were out and there was a lot of uncertainty and mis- communication. It took me almost 6 weeks just to get transformer information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Was the original facility built with 575 volts or was it 480 volts? Are the new transformers utility supplied and installed? What is the output voltage on the transformers? Maybe I am reading it wrong but it sounds like the engineer messed up or someone did now follow the engineered prints. However the electrical contractor should be familiar with what equipment to use. How does one order service equipment without knowing the voltage and available fault current? No disrespect intended but were the owners cutting corners and using non electrical people to do the work? Interesting situation and I am curious to see what happened.
Another theory is internal communication problems at the utility. We had that during Covid. About 25% of the utility planners here were out and there was a lot of uncertainty and mis- communication. It took me almost 6 weeks just to get transformer information.
I don't know what the original facility had. I suspect when we purchased the property it had been renovated at least 3 times.

The new transformers we installed.

Right now the sale is in final escrow so it is the new owner's problem. I have put my electrician in touch with the new owner's builder after receiving notice that El Paso Electric wants to do a complete reinspection.

I honestly don't know how this town isn't completely bankrupt. It is impossible to get things done.
 

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I cannot speak to your specific situation, but up here there is a separation of the "Electrical Inspection" and the "Utility Connection". The work that you did could have complied with the electrical code based on the installation requirements. The electrical inspector may not know what your incoming voltage is going to be or they may have known that and missed that. Here our utility would have connected that service without even looking twice if it had passed the electrical inspection.

Ultimately it is the engineer's responsibility to comply with the requirements of the electrical code and any local amendments. So if the specifications were for 600 volt and additional disconnects, then your engineer seemed to have missed that part.

The electricians, within reason, are going to install what they are told (provided) to install. This also seems like it could have (should have?) been picked up by the electrician also... but it all falls back to the engineer in the end.

Cheers
John
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I cannot speak to your specific situation, but up here there is a separation of the "Electrical Inspection" and the "Utility Connection". The work that you did could have complied with the electrical code based on the installation requirements. The electrical inspector may not know what your incoming voltage is going to be or they may have known that and missed that. Here our utility would have connected that service without even looking twice if it had passed the electrical inspection.

Ultimately it is the engineer's responsibility to comply with the requirements of the electrical code and any local amendments. So if the specifications were for 600 volt and additional disconnects, then your engineer seemed to have missed that part.

The electricians, within reason, are going to install what they are told (provided) to install. This also seems like it could have (should have?) been picked up by the electrician also... but it all falls back to the engineer in the end.

Cheers
John
Well we not only inherited a few non-compliant pieces of equipment and runs from the previous owners, but I inherited the Engineer when I took over the project. He was great at first but he really should have retired in the last 2 years. I could call him up after waiting 6 months for a project to be complete, and he could switch gears and remember our site faster than just about anyone of his advanced age should be expected to.

This failure was my responsibility, ultimately, as I should have fired him a year ago. The new eyes would have immediately identified the potential issue. We had confirmed that our breakers would handle 600v but it was the enclosure itself that wouldn't.

The ultimate cost for this was a possible income stream with the offline building and 4 years of miasma, only 2 of which can be blamed on Covid, IMHO.
 

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Out of curiosity how large is this complex and what is it being used for that it requires 575 volts? I say 575 volts because I do not know of 600 volt services. This whole set up does not sound right and maybe others can explain it. Usually the line diagram progresses from the utility to the metering equipment then to the service equipment / MDP then to the transformers and then to other distribution equipment. Usually anything after the main service disconnect, the utility does not get involved. That means the distribution to the transformers, the transformers, and distribution after the transformers is up to the electrical inspector and not the utility. The main service disconnect sometimes has both utility and electrical inspections required.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Out of curiosity how large is this complex and what is it being used for that it requires 575 volts? I say 575 volts because I do not know of 600 volt services. This whole set up does not sound right and maybe others can explain it. Usually the line diagram progresses from the utility to the metering equipment then to the service equipment / MDP then to the transformers and then to other distribution equipment. Usually anything after the main service disconnect, the utility does not get involved. That means the distribution to the transformers, the transformers, and distribution after the transformers is up to the electrical inspector and not the utility. The main service disconnect sometimes has both utility and electrical inspections required.
Big Chile Inn

It has been at least 3 different commercial hotels, Howard Johnson's, America's Best Value, and must have originally been a Ramada. Currently in the lobby there is a testimonial by a State Trooper that Clint Eastwood stayed there ~ 1968,

I could be wrong on the 600v, the original MDP 1 was rated to 480. The new one is rated > GE3 where GE=Governmental Entity and 3=Notation
 

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I have so much in common with this post. My girlfriend from way in the past took me to Clint Eastwood's restaurant/bar one night , but he wasn't there that day.....

The title of this thread...... Seems to me the poco's been messing with us all along for about 3 decades now. When they made a law here that touching their equipment without company approval is a ten thousand dollar fine and a year in jail. This was to discourage power theft, but it became the reason I haven't hooked up a service drop in 30 years to a house, I have to wait out the POCO to show up and do it. Usually all day.
 

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I’m 99/100 that you are not being given 600V (nominal) for a commercial facility in Texas. 600V is used extensively in Canada and in a few industrial facilities in the Southeast, mostly old textile mills (which are becoming more and more rare). But despite how weird Texas sometimes is about electric distribution, nobody there is going to insist on an island of 600V distribution amidst a sea of 480V for a hotel. The utility transformers would be too unique (for Texas or anyone else in the US) for them to keep in stock as backups. Utilities like for everything to be the same.

Besides, most panelboards that are rated 480V are also rated 600V. Electrical clearances, which is what panelboards must be built to, are either designed for 300V or 600V. There might be a difference in the breakers themselves, but not the panel.You are misinterpreting something or not getting your terminology right.
 
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