Though the public might not notice the change, updates to relay systems in McPherson will keep things running smoothly for a long time.

An ongoing project by the McPherson Board of Public Utilities that started last spring is now underway and will hopefully be completed by January or February 2018. The communication and relay production updates will take place between a BPU substation and Westar's West McPherson substation.

"The relay panels we have in there today used technology that probably dates back to the 1960s. The relays that we installed were installed in 1973. So with newer technology, you don't have to test it as often and has a lot more functionality. Plus, the technicians that worked on the older stuff, a lot of them are retiring — so it's difficult to find people that can test the relays," said Tim Maier, general manager at BPU.

Long term, Maier said updating these relay systems will provide a more reliable system and will save the company more money.

As updating the system continues, Maier explained this will not affect the city of McPherson overall.

"What we're replacing is just like the breaker in your house. It trips if a problem in the electric system occurs, so the breaker senses a problem and it trips. So what we have is we have relays in both substations, those sense a problem and tell the breakers to trip, which trip and clear issues or clear faults. So these devices have to be able to communicate from one end to the other," Maier explained.

For more information, call 620-245-2515 or visit their website at or visit their Facebook page.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.