2021 Infrastructure Maintenance
on Wednesday, April 7, 2021
No one likes dealing with power outages, including us, and every year we work hard to improve the reliability and safety of our electric infrastructure. Whether it’s performing line clearance to keep trees away from our lines or replacing old equipment, our engineers and line crews spend a significant amount of time maintaining and improving the system. Here are some projects we have planned for 2021:
Pole Testing and Replacement
Each year we test poles to evaluate their stability and overall condition. Any poles that fail the test get replaced the following year. With roughly 100,000 poles in our system, we can’t possibly test all of them every year, but we rotate around our service territory to ensure that all poles get tested approximately every five years.
Where needed, we have begun replacing our old copper wire with new aluminum conductor steel reinforced wire. These new rebuild projects help us handle additional load growth and in certain cases, enable us to create or improve our tie lines between substations. We rely on tie lines to reroute electricity for customers if a substation goes down or needs maintenance.
When we replace our old wires, we also re-span the distance between poles to an ideal 225-250 feet. That sometimes means moving pole locations, adding poles or updating the construction of a pole. Regardless, all poles get replaced during the process unless a particular pole is brand new.
The fiber communication system that delivers internet to our customers also provides us with the opportunity to make our grid smarter and even more reliable. In 2018, we announced the beginning of our implementation of distribution automation (DA)*, which works to isolate outages and reroute electricity to reduce the number of impacted customers. We continue to add more DA equipment and capabilities throughout our system.
*If you’d like to read the article introducing distribution automation, click here and flip to page 13.