Case Studies

Burke Electric LLC

Three generations of electrical expertise in the Pacific Northwest

Burke Electric LLC, founded by Paul Burke in 1958, started as a small, hometown electrical contractor. Paul graduated from The University of Washington in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Paul’s son, Randy, joined the family business and has since been procuring government contracts and acting as managing member for 40 years.

After completing the electrical apprenticeship program and running projects as foreman in the field, Dominic Burke, the latest family member to join, has been working alongside Paul and Randy as a member for over 10 years. For more than 50 years and through three generations, Burke Electric has grown significantly, providing high-performance electrical services throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The company is based in Bellevue, Wash. The staff of approximately 50 people, including union electricians, fluctuates depending on workload. The experienced crew performs a significant amount of federal work, comprising 40 percent of company revenue. The remaining 60 percent is a combination of commercial and industrial work, including mid- and high-rise office retail buildings, utility distribution, wastewater and water treatment, hydroelectric work and other power projects.

While best known for hydroelectric work, Burke Electric has powered through diverse projects, performing both low and high voltage contracts. Recent projects have involved security systems, fire control and power distribution, as well as underground, substation and advanced sustainable energy work.

With a broad set of capabilities, Burke Electric frequently performs services as a specialty contractor. Whether performing as a prime contractor or an electrical subcontractor with a bonding capacity of over $10 million per project, Burke Electric’s crew members are able to take on contracts with large and complex scopes.

A growing portfolio

To date, one of the most complex projects the Burke Electric crew completed was the Snoqualmie Falls redevelopment project, which took three years to finish. Burke Electric was responsible for procuring the electrical components to replace the outdated existing systems installed back in the 1800s. The crew also had the challenge of installing programmable equipment, including 480VAC MCC’s, VFD’s four pad mount, oil filled station service transformers, two 250KV liquefied petroleum gas fueled emergency standby generators and the list goes on. Some of these new components were either installed above the falls at the renovated power plant one, or down in the cavern, some 200 feet underground only accessible by elevator.

Burke Electric has had crew members stationed in the Grand Coulee Dam area for over 25 years, completing a variety of contracts for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The biggest project to date, awarded at over $11 million, included Burke Electric’s involvement in the design and construction of a new 11.95 kilovolt switchyard for the facility to service the existing 500 kilovolt, 230 kilovolt and 115 kilovolt switchyards and the industrial area surrounding the Grand Coulee Dam.

The company’s scope of work on the project also included furnishing and installing an oil spill containment system, switchyard steel structures, fiber optic cable, electrical ground mat, cables, conduit and equipment, as well as transformers and circuit breakers. The team was also responsible for related structures, including concrete foundations, firewall and pull box vault. When the project was finished, Burke Electric performed testing and provided training for the upgraded facility.

Over the past 10 years, the Burke Electric team has been evolving and diversifying its skills to meet industry needs, ever-changing codes and customer requests. In the wastewater and water treatment sector, the crew completed work on the East Pine Pump Station owned by the King County wastewater division. Scope of work involved removing the existing pump station electrical and controls and setting the operation up in a temporary trailer with a motor control center and a main control panel to allow full operation of facility while upgrades were underway.

Burke Electric performed demolition of equipment inside the existing pump station facility, pouring new housekeeping curbs and installing a new motor control center. The crew installed three new variable-frequency drives, new HVAC systems, new instrumentation and controls. At the end of the renovations, the team transferred electrical and controls back to the existing pump station and tested equipment to ensure completion.

Green machine

Sustainable energy is a growing market in the United States. As western states move to keep up with changing energy policies and practices, Burke Electric is getting involved along the way. The crew completed the first phase of the city of Ellensburg, Washington Renewable Park in 2011. The city’s objective for the project was to demonstrate a variety of different wind machine technologies for future growth in renewable energy.

Burke Electric’s scope of work on the unique contract included excavation, concrete foundations, turbine assembly and erection of both vertical and horizontal axis wind turbines. Coordination with the city of Ellensburg was vital to the success of the project, specifically for metering and connection to the local electric utility grid, electrical service equipment, grounding systems and AC inverters as required.

Burke Electric furnished and installed four different turbine systems. The first was an Energy Ball V200, an aesthetic spherical wind turbine with five rotor blades designed in Holland and manufactured in the U.S. Another was the Honeywell WindTronics WT6500 2.2 Kilowatt wind turbine, featuring aerodynamic blades for maximum rotation and strategically places magnets that eliminate the need for a gearing mechanism. The next was a Skystream 3.7 Kilowatt Wind Turbine, a wind-powered generated with an integrated AC power inverter manufactured by Southwest Windpower. The last was the Windspire Energy 1.2 Kilowatt Wind Turbine, a vertical axis turbine manufactured in Reno, Nev., featuring vertical airfoils on a 30-foot mono-pole.

A powerful future

Burke Electric’s growing portfolio represents a broad range of capabilities, as well as strong relationships with clients and industry partners. The Burke Electric crew has the power to take on a diverse spread of opportunities down the line as the industry develops. Innovation continues to be a powerful driving force behind the industry and the company.

As the business moves forward in the coming years, Burke Electric is poised for steady growth. By tracking and training for new technology, trends and policies, the company has an advantage over less diversified electrical contractors. Burke Electric LLC offers invaluable service, experience and expertise to public and private clients throughout the region.

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