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NIPCO Breaks Ground on Denison Outpost Facility

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Artist rendering of the outpost building to be located in Denison, Iowa.
Architectural rendering of the NIPCO Outpost Crew building in Denison, Iowa.

In March, NIPCO's Board of Directors approved the construction of a new outpost building near Denison, Iowa. Early discussions to consolidate NIPCO's outpost crews and facilities into one location began in 2018, with NIPCO Engineers searching for an optimal site for its placement and developing a recommendation for the operational goals and design of the facility.

Two existing outpost structures in Onawa and Harlan served as the home base for two separate 2-men outpost crews managing operations in the southern half of NIPCO's service footprint. But the buildings, 28 and 47 years old, respectively, required major upgrades due to their age. Further, they were not suited to properly house the increasing size of service vehicles and equipment being utilized by crews.

The NIPCO Engineering department worked closely with Operations to develop an initial design for a consolidated facility that would serve as the singular location for NIPCO's outpost crew to be based in a location central to the region. Thirty-one sites were considered before landing on a location one-half mile east of the intersection of Highway 59 and State Highway 141 south of Denison. The chosen location will improve response times during emergencies, benefiting communities in southern Woodbury and Ida counties and Monona, Crawford, Carroll, Harrison, Shelby, Pottawattamie, and Cass counties during power outages and routine maintenance.

Aerial photo of dirt work being performed by large construction equipment.
Sitework began in July 2023 for the new South Outpost building.

A proposal was brought to the Directors in August 2022 for the acquisition of the land, as well as a design concept and a handful of bids for the construction of the facility. After some discussion, the Directors felt it prudent to re-evaluate the overall design and consider re-bidding the project again in 2023.

The Board of Directors postponed the project in response to supply chain disruptions and cost escalations in the construction industry. By demonstrating flexibility in design and resourcefulness in materials planning, NIPCO's Engineering department navigated through these challenges, ensuring that the new outpost building would meet the needs of our operations crew and our members while keeping overall costs reasonable. In March of 2023, a final proposal to the NIPCO Board garnered approval with a comprehensive construction estimate of $3.5 million.

"When NIPCO began this process, we had no idea of the challenges we would face in a post-pandemic economic environment," explained NIPCO Vice President of Engineering and Operations Jayme Huber. "Our teams are excited to execute the design and give our south outpost crew a viable location to perform their jobs to benefit our member cooperatives and those they serve."

In addition to addressing the cooperative's immediate operational needs, the larger footprint of the new outpost building will facilitate the storage of equipment and materials, ensuring crews have quick access to essential resources.

The all-steel framed, 3-bay outpost building structure will feature 6,840 square feet of space and will serve as the reporting facility for four outpost crew members. The shop space is large enough to house two line trucks, one basket and one digger derrick truck, a dump truck, a crew trailer, a four-wheeler, and a Bobcat. The building will also feature a lineman crew room for meetings, central air and heat, LED lighting, a small kitchenette, and restrooms that also double as a storm shelter.

Photo close-up of construction crews smoothing out the dirt at the Denison site.
Dirt work at the Denison site.

Construction broke ground on the new outpost building on July 10, marking a significant milestone in the project's timeline. The construction phase is expected to continue through early 2024.

"The new outpost building is not only a symbol of progress for NIPCO but also a testament to our Board of Directors' commitment to serving our members into the next generation," emphasized Matt Washburn, NIPCO's Executive Vice President and General Manager. "It reinforces the cooperative's dedication to providing reliable and responsive energy solutions for the communities we serve."


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