Rain or Shine, Crews Focus on Reliability

December 19, 2018

Scattered clouds streaked through an otherwise clear sky on a recent chilly morning in Frederick County. No rain was expected, and only nine Rappahannock Electric Cooperative members lost
power all day long. As they do each day, REC crews loaded their trucks in the morning and rolled out with a goal of making life better for members. A recent reliability project in this area demonstrated the work crews perform – even on blue-sky days – to keep the electric system strong.

Minimizing Outages in Middletown
REC recently identified a two-mile section of Route 11 in Middletown as a High
Reliability Zone (HRZ), a section of the circuit from the substation to the first down-line
protective device. Protecting that main circuit significantly reduces outages farther down the

In identifying an HRZ, REC considers such criteria as the number of outages on the circuit, the number of members served and critical members such as hospitals and schools along that line. At the recent worksite, for instance, both Lord Fairfax Community College and
Middletown Elementary School were within a short distance, as are several industrial businesses.

As part of their work in the area, crews are replacing dozens of crossarms
and insulators. They also are setting new poles as needed. “It gives us more strength and stability on the system for members, and it gives our crews more clearance from conductors so it’s safer for them,” said Gary Garrett, a lead lineman in REC’s Blue Ridge office. Each work zone has its challenges, Garrett noted. Along Route 11, for instance, REC had to coordinate with VDOT in some spots as crews worked alongside the road due to deep mud in the rights of way. “Traffic has been a big challenge,” Gary said, as a steady stream of trucks, commuter cars and even a school bus drove through the area. But, “It’s very important for our members,” Garrett said. “That’s who we’re here for. We want to keep our infrastructure safe and reliable, and this is a significant upgrade. It’s all about what our members gain from it.” This project serves as a reminder that even on days with pleasant weather and few outages, REC works to stay proactive and prevent outages before they can occur. “It’s part of our commitment to members,” Garrett said.