Focus on Reliability

Stopping Outages in their Tracks

Engineers and distribution designers lay out the plans for line crews to build power lines serving members of REC. Every step is taken during this process to install the proper equipment so REC’s members have reliable electricity when they need and want it. Sometimes equipment fails and members experience a
power outage.

“We are very thorough in completing proactive inspections of our distribution system,” said Ernie Young, director of operational and construction services at REC. “We have identified problems and we have been able to make repairs before outages occur.

However, some problems are not visible to the eye. We’ve found a way to identify and repair those before outages happen.” Last year, REC conducted a pilot program using advanced technology to assess equipment on the circuits with the highest concentration of equipment-related outages within REC’s
distribution system. This technology has helped REC stop power outages before they happen.
“Our goal is to reduce power outages,” said Young. “We also want to transition from reactive outage restoration to predictive based maintenance for overhead equipment.”

To conduct these assessments REC performs a series of steps:

1. An analysis is conducted using a sensor placed inside a vehicle. A representative drives by specified facilities and the sensor collects signals and analyzes them to provide the location of arcing, tracking and leaking electrical components.

2. Field visits are then conducted on different days and at different times. If a problem is confirmed, another inspection is conducted using satellite technology to pinpoint the failing equipment.

3. REC line crews then perform repairs or replace the equipment before it fails and causes a power outage.

Over 300 miles of pre-identified power lines will be inspected in 2016. “These inspections will identify problems that would eventually cause a power outage for members. This is the type of proactive maintenance that we need to conduct in order to exceed our members’ expectations. Based on what we identified in 2015, we expect to be able to make proactive repairs that will reduce the likelihood of power outages occurring,” added Young.

Over 212 miles of power lines were analyzed in 2015. During those assessments 45 faulty pieces of equipment were identified, which equates to one piece of equipment every 4.5 miles. By repairing these failing pieces of equipment, REC prevented outages that would have affected nearly 7,000 members. REC expects to repair 90 potential outage causing pieces of equipment this year, preventing nearly 18,000 members from experiencing an outage.

Stopping Outages in Their Tracks