Electric Infrastructure Maintenance for 2023
by Bob Hance on Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Maintaining over 4,000 miles of line and roughly 100,000 poles is no walk in the park, but it’s an important part of what we do. Every day our team works hard to make sure our infrastructure is built for the future. Here are our plans for 2023.
Let’s start with our tree and brush removal program. We remove obstructions from around our lines because trees and power lines do not mix. This ongoing project is critical for reliability, safety, and outage prevention. Overgrown brush around our infrastructure means more dangerous and difficult repairs and ultimately leads to longer outages. By aggressively clearing around our lines, we can reduce the time it takes to restore power.
Additionally, we continue our smart grid implementation through distribution automation (DA). DA automatically identifies and isolates outages and then reroutes electricity where possible to reduce impact. In non-outage situations, it helps us monitor equipment and identify problems.
In our southwest territory, we’ll add an additional 30 DA devices throughout the system by the end of this year. On the southeast side, we added smart reclosers to over 80% of our substation circuits and will continue to add more DA devices once we complete work on our southwest side.
Additionally, we have been actively replacing some of our copper wire with aluminum conductor steel-reinforced wire. This ensures the system can handle additional electric load. Plus, in certain circumstances, it enables us to improve our tie lines between substations, which means we can more readily reroute electricity when there is an outage. Finally, when we replace the old wire, we also ensure that the poles are an ideal distance of 200-250 feet.
Speaking of poles, as part of our normal maintenance, we test select poles each year. Any that fail the test get replaced the following year, and all poles get tested every five years. This ensures our poles are stable and in good condition.
We’ve also got substation upgrades on the horizon. Our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, will begin work on our Schoolcraft substation in 2023. Plus, we have plans for additional upgrades in the coming years.
These investments are critical to ensuring reliability, and they modernize our grid to help bring you the best service experience possible.