SAME Checks Out Direct Current Converter Station
On the 6th of March, the OSU Student Post of the Society of American Military Engineers, also known as SAME, took a field trip to visit the Celilo Direct Current Converter Station in The Dalles, Oregon. Eight cadets participated with representation from all three branches of ROTC. Lt. Col. Paul Ashcraft, OSU’s Professor of Military Science and advisor to the student Post also attended to share his varied career with the Army Corp of Engineers.
The Celilo Station is an incredible facility that serves to transport over 3,100 Megawatts of power from the Northwest to Los Angeles, enough power to supply over 1.7 million homes! While there, cadets learned about the important aspects of regulating and distributing power throughout the United States and the vast amount of work that is being done in the background, unknown to the general public, to keep power flowing where it’s needed.
Benjamin, an Environmental Engineering major in AFROTC, remarked that “we sometimes take for granted the fact that we have power when we plug in our iPods and computers, or flip on the light switch – never knowing that there are thousands of people working switches and control rooms, making sure enough power is in the right places each and every day”. The 846 miles of cable that link Celilo to Los Angeles make for a very beneficial relationship. In the summer, Los Angeles has great need for power in order to run all the air conditioners in the city, while the Northwest needs the power in the Winter to power all their heaters – this creates a symbiotic relationship as they transport power between each other when they each have their respective needs.
SAME’s relationship with the Army Corp of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration were a key aspect in getting access to Celilo for this trip. After 2001, our power infrastructure, such as the Celilo Station, has been closed to the general public due to security concerns, making this a unique opportunity for young engineers to see and understand an important part of our nation’s infrastructure.