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Member Matters: Reliability

Member Matters: Reliability - VideoFour Nines -

Part of my responsibility at TCEC is to monitor the reliability of our electrical system and work to improve it. After a tough first half of 2017, I’m happy to report our fourth quarter average system availability index (ASAI) number was 0.9999. The index represents the percent of time during the year that the average member has power. Four nines are the best numbers a system can expect.
For comparison, our second quarter ASAI number was 0.9767. The April 2017 snow storm hit the system hard with some extended outages. It was the primary cause of the lower number. When rebuilding after a storm, TCEC takes steps to improve the system’s reliability in the future.

After a storm

Some of the steps we take to improve reliability when reconstructing power lines after a storm are:

  • Strategically placing ductile iron poles in place of wooden poles to strengthen the system.
  • Placing poles closer together.
  • Using bigger conductor or wire.
  • Using fiberglass cross arms instead of wooden cross arms.

Year-round maintenance

We have a robust maintenance program in place year-round at TCEC. 
Our utility poles are tested and treated on a 15-year rotation. That means that every year, we have a contract crew go through our territory to test and treat 1/15 of the poles on our system. That equates to about 7,000 poles a year.
We also contract with a professional tree trimming company to maintain our right-of-way. They trim trees to a safe distance from power lines. Trimming trees to the industry standard helps reduce power outages and safety issues.
Our maintenance crew and service technicians continually inspect the system for weaknesses and repair them.

System improvements

We plan improvements every year to increase the system’s safety, efficiency and reliability. In recent years, we’ve made the following changes:

  • Upgrades to the transmission breakers in the Cole Interchange for reliability in Beaver County (2015).
  • Upgrades to Sunset, Ellison and Tucker-Thompson substations in Guymon (2015).
  • New substation and voltage conversion in the town of Goodwell (2015).
  • New substation and voltage conversion in the town of Texhoma (2017).
  • New substation and voltage conversion in the town of Keyes (2017).
  • New substation for Boise City (2017), with future plans to convert the town.

We often say we’re ‘converting’ a town. This means we’re changing out transformers, insulators and poles to put the system on a more standard voltage.

The year in parenthesis above indicates the year completed. Many of these projects took several years to complete and some are still in progress. 

For example, we are working closely with GridLiance, the owner of the transmission system, to plan transmission upgrades in Cimarron County. We’re hoping to loop the system together which allows for multiple ways to feed power to substations. This will greatly improve the reliability of the Cimarron County and Elkhart, Kansas, communities. If an outage does occur, we can possibly change the way the power is fed to turn the lights back on faster.

Future plans

The 2017 storms put a kink in some of our improvement plans. Completing the repair work that is partially reimbursable by FEMA is a priority. If we don’t complete that work in a timely fashion, we could lose some funding. We will continue to work on improvements in areas like Boise City and Elkhart as the work load and budget allows. They just may take longer than we initially thought. 

We can’t predict the future or the weather. We plan for the worst and hope for the best. We at TCEC are committed to providing the very best service possible. 

Published February 1, 2018

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