Albuquerque electric company completes once-in-a-lifetime project in Grand Canyon


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A family-owned Albuquerque company is gaining more exposure after tackling what some might call a job of grand proportion.

What the group worked on is something many of us may take for granted when visiting national parks — electricity and running water.

Getting those utilities to such a remote location as the Grand Canyon is a major endeavor, but that is exactly what VA Electric did and it is paying off big time.

Every year, more than 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon for its breathtaking views, which is why it has become one of the most visited spots in the Southwest. But for employees with VA Electric, it also served as their office.

“Coordination wise, itโ€™s the most difficult project we’ve done,” said Donald Aragon, President of VA Electric.

For nearly seven months, VA Electric took on the huge task of updating the parks electrical grid and water system.

The entire process was extremely tedious and the elements were nothing like they had dealt with before.

“There were days where itโ€™s 115 and 117 degrees. On top of that, theyโ€™re having to deal with walking the five-mile walk to and from work,” said Aragon.

Along with the taxing walks and the scorching temps, they had to coordinate every move with the national park service to complete their project of upgrading the HVAC system.

They had to meticulously plan when the equipment would be flown in by helicopter.

“The scheduling of all the stuff the material that needs to go in in very precise timelines and all the coordination that goes through procurement manufacture and delivery of this stuff,” said Aragon.

To make things even more difficult, VA Electric was racing against the clock. They were only given a 30-hour window to install the most important piece, a new switchboard to power the system.

Again, that massive switchboard had to be squeezed into place via helicopter.

“If that thing got damaged we wouldโ€™ve had to go back to the drawing board,” said Aragon.

Something else worth noting — because the employees had to hike to the site and camp out in the Grand Canyon, the owner of VA Electric says they even had to take a survival class before starting the project.

It’s this project that has helped the small New Mexico company soar to new heights. They won the 2017 National Award of Excellence in Electrical Construction.

They have also now secured bigger projects like working on the FAA building in Palmdale, California.

“With the Grand Canyon under our belt, we can tell you we did this job. We won an award. VA Electric is hard-working,” said Sam Lamb, shop operations manager.

As for their next project in California, that work will start in early January.

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