Chapter Corner

Northern Electric: Hazelton Correctional Facility

Posted in: November/December 2013

NorthernElectric.gifNorthern Electric was celebrated for its work on the Hazelton Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in Hazelton, West Virginia. Northern Electric was responsible for the design and installation of the electrical distribution infrastructure as well as the fire alarm, data and voice distribution, master antenna television, and uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems for the 540,255-square-foot facility.

The biggest challenge Northern Electric faced was the remote location of the site that included deep ravines, irregular rock outcroppings, and dense forest as well as the hard and abrasive red limestone that lay just below the topsoil. The terrain required blasting and extensive grading, as well as creative solutions to systems that were typically buried underground. Northern Electric also faced two harsh winters in the Appalachian Mountains. Design began in October 2009, and the project was completed in September 2012. 

The design had many elements of a small city including medium voltage utilities, street lighting, a library, classrooms, chapel, gym, infirmary, a central utility plant, cafeteria, laundry facilities, maintenance facilities, living quarters, and a police station.

The electrical distribution infrastructure system consisted of an underground, 12,470 volt medium voltage loop including 13 medium voltage switches and oil filled transformers. The loop encircles the site and is over one and one half miles in length.

NorthernElec_Photo.pngThe construction was primarily precast, mandating four separate construction flows. This was especially difficult as the project was in the metric format. The design was then transferred to computer-aided design (CAD) and submitted to the precast subcontractor for manufacture. The walls were shipped to the site and erected with the use of a crane. The cells were precast in pairs and shipped via railroad to the site from 11,000 miles away in Texas as a finished product including interior lighting, plumbing, trim, and paint. This effort paid off as manpower peaked at 90 rather than 200 as was anticipated.

The fire alarm, data and voice distribution, master antenna television, and UPS systems were combined with nine separate security systems into a fully integrated low-voltage network. The system consists of the various field devices connected to a series of 13 security electronics rooms located in the various buildings around the site.

These rooms are in turn connected via an extensive underground fiber optics and copper cable network to a large master control console located in the administrative building.

This project was Northern Electric's largest single project to date, and hours worked were in excess of 200,000 with zero lost-time accidents.