DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Storm Response

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jun 19, 2013 5:01:00 PM

Within the past two decades, studies have shown that utilities have significantly improved their storm response performance while cutting the duration of storm outages and increasing the rate in which power is being restored.  

As with most things, storm response has improved through experience.  For example, past storms can be very useful in improving a utility’s logistics.  In the case of crossarms, truckloads are often divided among different service locations.  It is important to have a good idea of the usage at each location to properly divide truckloads.  With properly divided trucks, all crews can be kept supplied with the proper amount of crossarms, rather than having a portion of the repair crews supplied with more than they need, while other crews wait on a truck that may not arrive until the next day.

While utilities are constantly improving techniques and processes for quick recovery, many are quick to criticize the restoration efforts.  Customers should remember that every situation is different, and it’s difficult to follow one set of rules. It is, however, crucial for utilities to have constant communication with their customers and communities, because let’s face it- we are addicted to electricity…and social media.

Customers without electricity should also remember that utility companies have a set priority to restoring electricity:

1. Emergency services:  hospitals, fire stations, police, and first aid

2. Circuits serving the largest area of customers

3. Individual homes and businesses

According to a study conducted in 2003 by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), four things stand out about the progress of utility storm response:

  • The rate at which utilities are able to restore power to customers following a major storm event has improved.
  • The average number of days required to complete restoration efforts has decreased.
  • While the number of restoration workers deployed has decreased, the number of customers restored per worker has increased.
  • Recent storms do not appear to have been any more or less severe, based on equipment damage. 
In a more recent study by EEI, completed in January 2013, they suggested two main solutions to combating and mitigating storm damage and outages: system hardening and resiliency measures.

System Hardening, as defined by EEI, is physical changes to the utility’s infrastructure to make it less susceptible to storm damage, with the hardening improving durability and stability of transmission and distribution infrastructure, allowing the system to withstand the impacts of severe weather events with minimal damage. 

Resiliency, defined by EEI, refers to the ability of utilities to recover quickly from damage to any of its facilities’ components or to any of the external systems, not necessarily preventing damage, but enabling electric facilities to continue operating despite damage.

Wood Transmission Assembly

EEI Hardening Measures:

  • Undergrounding- eliminate poles and bury distribution lines underground to shield them from severe weather events.
  • Higher Design and Construction Standards- elevate substations and other vulnerable facilities that are susceptible to flooding, and hardening measures for pole designs to withstand high winds and mitigate widespread outages.
  • Smart Grid- although this technology is still being developed, it would allow the system to detect outages and remotely reroute electricity to undamaged circuits and feeders.
  • Microgrid- still in study phase, but this idea is that it functions as an isolatable distribution network, usually connected to one or more distributed generation sources that connect s and disconnects from the main grid in times of widespread outages.
  • Advanced Technology- various mapping technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Automated Mapping Facilities Management (AM/FM).

EEI Resiliency Measures:

  • Shared or Contract Labor Force- secure enough crew members in preparation for major weather events in advance.
  • Standby Equipment- such as strategic alliances or material consignment, equipped trucks, GPS devices and also secure enough fuel for service trucks.
  • Restoration Materials- adequate backup restoration supplies such as poles, wires, transformers and other components that are easily obtained through contracts with suppliers.
  • Enhanced Communication, Planning & Coordination- make sure to have pre-staging areas and staging areas set up in advance, also have a single point of contact who communicates updates and information to customers, communities and crew members.
  • Advanced Technologies- Outage Management Systems are used to detect and report reliability issues, also infrared scanning for surface and airborne damage assessment. 
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Tags: wood transmission assemblies, substations, utilities, crossarms, storm response, Eddison Electric Institute, smart grid

DIS-TRAN's Top Utility Posts of 2012

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 4, 2013 10:50:00 AM

As the new calendar year begins, it’s a good time to look back at all the accomplishments, as well as all the areas of improvement, to ensure that the next 365 days are just as good, if not better, than the previous.

One accomplishment from 2012 would have to be the continuous success of the DIS-TRAN Blog.

For me, the best part about writing each blog is that, as I’m sharing valuable information with others, I’m also learning too. And I couldn’t have done it without the participation and help from all of the employees here who have taught me so much.

So with that said, here’s a recap of some of the 2012 blog articles that seemed to make the biggest impact among our readers.

Top Posts by Page Views:

1. 10 Things You Ought to Know about TimberSIL Distribution Crossarms- Coming in at number one for 2012, this article generated the most interest and moved the conversation about this new “green” product.

2. The Secret to Building Morale by Maintaining Your Plant- This post shows a few simple steps that could change the entire perception of your fabricating facility!.

3. A Cheat Sheet for Electrical Substations- An inside look at how electricity is generated from substations into your home, and the main structures found inside a substation and their functions.

Top Human Interest Posts:

1. Road to Recovery After Hurricane Sandy- Super Storm Sandy left thousands of homes flooded and millions in the dark. Although DIS-TRAN wasn’t physically there, we worked around the clock to assist utilities to get power restored as quickly as possible. Our hearts go out to everyone who encountered Sandy’s devastation.

2. DIS-TRAN Goes Pink- This was an awesome experience and I’m really glad I got to do it with some great people!

3. DIS-TRAN’s Quick Response for Storm Restoration- Real time efforts made by DIS-TRAN and the dedicated employees who make this happen.

Top Informational Posts:

1. Design Practice for Flange Plates versus Slip Joint Connections- Great advice with a little help from our engineering department.

2. How to Use Lean Manufacturing to Increase Production- Lean Manufacturing might be an easy concept to understand, but implementing it takes hard work, persistence and teamwork.

3. Back to Basics in Transmission Structures- For anyone just starting off in this industry, substations and transmissions can get confusing. This article walks through transmission structures and their different configurations at an easy-to-learn pace.

Since September, just within a matter of a few months, our blog has taken off and I’d like to thank all of our subscribers and followers for reading and sharing our posts. If there’s anything you’d like us to write about, share or answer, please leave a comment below and we will do our best to help!

Happy New Year!

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Tags: substations, utilities, transmission, transmission structures, DIS-TRAN, TimberSIL, utility, distribution corssarms, storm restoration, flange plates, electrical substations, joint connections

Behind the scenes look at Substations and Transmissions

Posted by Brooke Barone on Oct 26, 2012 11:29:00 AM

Turning on a light happens within a blink of an eye. But it’s a little more complicated than just flipping a switch. P1020296 resized 600

Transmission and substations work coinciding with one another in order to bring the electricity from the distribution station, into your home.

Transmission lines move high voltage power across the country, while substations basically take the higher voltage down to lower voltages.  Let’s say a 230kV line comes into a substation, the power is then transformed into a lower voltage, or multiple lower voltages, and then carried out by distribution lines into your home or business.

A good way to remember the difference between the two is to think of transmission lines as interstates or freeways, and distribution lines as smaller state or county highways.

There are three components that make up a transmission line:

  • Conductors
  • Insulators
  • Transmission Structures

Transmission structures are typically taller than substation structures because they carry a higher voltage and require a greater phase separation. Transmission structures can be made with either wood, concrete or steel. Lower transmission voltages are more commonly constructed with wood or concrete, while steel is used for higher voltage structures.

Transmission structures are built in a number of different designs, but the two most common that you will see are tapered tubular poles or lattice structures.  Other transmission structure types include:

  • Dead-end                           
  • Embedded
  • Base-plate
  • Tangent
  • Guyed
  • Unguyed

The transmission lines deliver power to transformers, which are located inside the substation. The substation is where the voltage is either increased or decreased. The power is then carried out by either overhead lines or underground potheads. (A device that connects overhead conductors to underground)

The main structures found in a substation are:

  • Dead-Ends
  • Static Poles
  • Equipment/Bus Supports

The circuits are connected by buses, which connects different  circuits within a substation, providing flexibility.  Buses can be made with either aluminum tubing, copper or other materials.

All electricity travels in three phases, or three separate lines, to make up one circuit. It depends on the voltage as to how far apart each line should be spaced. The higher the voltage, the further apart they should be in order to avoid arcing. If the wires get too close to the metal or any object, it will arc, finding the path of least resistance. This is vital with both transmission and substations.

For FREE Steel Sturcture Design Templates, click on the link below!

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Tags: substations, transmission, tapered tubular steel poles, transmission structures, substation structures, distribution line, high voltage, transmissions

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