Western, IEEE and Siemens recently celebrated the IEEE Milestone commemoration of the Virginia Smith Converter Station. The station, located in Sidney, Nebraska, provides an important interconnection between two of the nation’s three electrical grids, literally connecting east to west. Its electrical current conversion technology represents an important technological achievement in the field of electric power. Western owns and operates the converter station. The station’s innovative control technologies act like giant shock absorbers between the eastern and western alternating current grids, allowing a reliable flow of energy between the two. Previous attempts to connect the grids without converter stations failed because frequencies on each side do not exactly match. The Virginia Smith station is capable of transferring energy in either an east-west or west-east direction by converting and inverting the AC grids to a common, controllable, high voltage direct current. Creating a reliable interconnection, the conversion process also makes it possible to maintain separation so that in times of disturbances, impacts in one grid do not adversely affect the other.
The IEEE Milestones plaque is permanently displayed in the lobby of Western’s Headquarters office at 12155 W. Alameda Parkway in Lakewood, Colorado, where it is publicly accessible to all who wish to view it. Photos from the event are here.

New Milestone
New Milestone in Region 5