LAKE OZARK - Bagnell Dam's new "step-up" transformers at the Lake of the Ozarks will raise the standard to transmit power to homes more efficiently.
Ameren Missouri is working on the third of four transformers in the dam's project.
The transformers will switch to $4 million gas-insulated transformers from the 80-year-old oil-powered ones.
Alan Sullivan-- consulting engineer for Ameren Missouri-- says he supports this change from the old transformers, which his grandfather helped install during the Great Depression.
"It is absolutely worth the money we spent both from a safety standpoint for the people who work here, environmentally for the Osage river below us and for safety of any pedestrian or vehicle traffic on the road above us," Sullivan said. "I think it's really neat that I'm here 80 years later to watch a new generation move in."
The transformers change the electrical pressure by increasing the voltage 10 times.
The $16 million spending justification was based on the switch from oil-powered units to gas, according to Sullivan.
Project supervisors attempted to make the dam sandwiched by the Osage River and a roadway more safer for the public.
“The gas-powered generators are much, much less likely to explode,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said in addition to the significant decrease in the risk of an explosion, the new technology will completely prevent the possibility of an oil spill.
He predicted other areas of the United States would adopt this type of dam transformer if they fear the same risk of an oil spill.
Produced by Toshiba in Japan, Sullivan said they were influenced by Asian technology because the generators are heavily used in areas with a high population density.
In an area decorated with visitors, he said Ameren responded with these generators from environmental concerns voiced by customers.
The old transformers didn't cause and environmental or safety concerns other than the inherent risk of an explosion or spill, but maintenance and safety testing in recent years showed they were beginning to internally deteriorate.