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The power of maintenance

Weather impacts 2017 outage report

The number of outages in 2017 rose nearly 45 percent from 2016, as snow and high winds impacted North Central Electric Cooperative’s statistics.

The board of trustees reviewed the annual outage summary at its February meeting, which showed maintenance efforts and technology enhancements are paying dividends when it comes to providing reliable service. 

The 254 outages were two shy of NCE’s 10-year average. Weather-related issues caused nearly half of the outages. 

The average length of time members were without power increased to 1 hour and 20 minutes from just 37 minutes in 2016. This ended a three-year run in which the average length of outages per member was below one hour. This marked the eighth time in the past 10 years when the average length of outages was below two hours.   

“Our outages may have increased in 2017, but when you look at the 10-year history, we believe these are strong numbers,” Director of  Engineering and Operations Brad Warnement said. “Our maintenance efforts show when severe weather hits. Plus, our investment in technology helps us reduce the length of outages.”

NCE continues to expand and grow the use of its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. This can help restore distribution line outages quicker than doing everything manually in the field. 

Power lines are continually relocated to within 20 feet of roads and driveways.  This allows NCE’s line crews to easily use bucket and derrick-digger trucks when problems occur, Warnement said. Climbing a pole to replace a transformer in a private right-of-way can take four times longer than using a bucket truck. Poles are tested on a four- to five-year cycle, and bad ones are replaced before they lead to a problem.
In addition, nearly 60 percent of the cooperative’s lines have been rebuilt since 2000, and less than 2 percent date back to 1969 or earlier. 
Aggressive vegetation control — concentrating on removing the dead ash trees — remains the most efficient way of maintaining system reliability.


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