Ironically, day-to-day maintenance and ensuring that the distribution grid is kept current through reinvestment were two shortfalls observed by a five-member CU team that returned last month from a two-week recovery mission to the Northeast in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. On that restoration mission, CU workers quickly realized levels of system upkeep and upgrade vary from utility to utility.
In a Thanksgiving Day edition interview, CU team members talked of their gratitude for having access to modern equipment, dependable service vehicles and contemporary processes that in most cases are safer and more efficient.
A recent report by Bart Borden, vice president of CU’s Electric Division, seemed to have validated some of his linemen’s observations about maintenance investments among utility providers. Of course, levels of maintenance are moot points in the face of devastating storms like Sandy; CU received its own lesson in the power of Mother Nature on April 27, 2011, and long before that on March 12-13, 1993, best remembered by most as the Blizzard of ’93.
“Maintenance efforts continued to be a large part of our workload,” Borden advised in a recent gathering of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. “[This included] 36 pole changeouts, 37 overhead transformers painted, the repair of 149 security and street lights, the routine maintenance on all 69KV SF6 high voltage breakers in all substations, the cleaning and painting of the power transformers and breakers at the Springbrook Substation, and the installation of security cameras at the Sequoia and Mouse Creek substations.”
The Electric Division’s work over the past month wasn’t all about maintenance. Much of it had to do with helping to expedite traffic projects, two of which are the Interstate 75 Exit 20 bridge widening and exit ramp reconstruction, and the Durkee Road and Benton Pike road widening projects.
Both projects are being led by TDOT and will require the relocation of power lines and transmission and distribution poles by CU.
Of the Exit 20 bridge project, “The existing distribution power line is on the south side of the bridge and TDOT is requiring CU to move the line to the north side of the new bridge location,” Borden cited. “The power line will remain on the north side in the bridge area after construction is completed.”
TDOT will reimburse CU for engineering costs estimated to be $13,640 and all materials supplied by CU for the relocation which are estimated to be $79,807. TDOT will include the relocation labor cost in the bid contract, he said.
Borden also pointed to CU’s involvement on the Durkee Road and Benton Pike road widening project for the city of Cleveland.
“This project will involve the relocation of several joint use 69KV transmission and 13.2KV distribution poles,” he said. “CU will be responsible for the cost associated with the relocation of poles on road right of way, but will be reimbursed for any poles located on private easements. Our engineering department is working on this design and will have an estimated cost soon.”
In another report, Borden confirmed some of the same observations made over the past few months by Ken Webb, CU senior vice president and CFO, and Craig Mullinax, vice president of the Water Division. In their assessments of economic recovery, both Webb and Mullinax have pointed to increases in access fees and meter sets that have been realized by CU over the past year. A noticeable rise in each means construction is increasing in the area which is considered a measure of economic viability.
“We have seen an increase in construction of homes and commercial-type developments,” Borden said. “We installed 5,400 feet of underground conduit last month, as opposed to 400 feet in September and 630 feet in August.”
Another traffic project making progress is in downtown Cleveland. Phase I of the downtown signals upgrade is completed with the updates of new traffic controllers on 13 intersections. The system now maintains a common time clock which allows for coordinated [traffic] progression, Borden explained.
“These controllers also provide for much needed flexibility for future growth and timing plans,” Borden said. “Phase II will provide a fiber optic drop (a reference to fiber optic cable) into the master cabinet for communications from the Traffic Operations Center.”