Delayed by storm repairs dating back to the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, and March 2, 2012, an intense Cleveland Utilities maintenance initiative aimed at inspecting its entire pad mount (ground level) equipment system is already making significant progress only six months into its launch.
“We started that project on Jan. 26, I believe it was ... and we’ve made very good progress,” said Bart Borden, vice president of CU’s Electric Division. “That’s half a year’s worth of work.”
Coordinated by a lone two-man CU crew, the maintenance work has earned Borden’s praise.
“[These Cleveland Utilities personnel] are being very efficient with their work and they’re accomplishing a great deal,” Borden told members of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities during a recent formal session in the CU training center.
To date, crews have completed maintenance on 77 sectors, 16 switch cabinets, 460 single-phase pad mounts and 187 three-phase pad mounts.
In order to cover CU’s entire system of ground-level equipment, the project is expected to take from 1 1/2 to two years. As part of the exhaustive project, the crew will physically inspect — and make repairs — to 1,805 pad mount transformers, and 274 switch and fusing cabinets.
Borden first apprised CU board members of the maintenance project, which traditionally takes place every 10 years, in March. In that meeting, the Electric Division leader stressed the importance of routine maintenance within the utility system.
“Everything we do eventually has to be replaced,” Borden told board members then. And he added, “... We try to do everything we can to prevent [replacement] and to prolong that process by doing maintenance on our equipment.”
Although CU operates a routine maintenance program with all of its equipment — from poles to vehicles to buildings — the transformer and fusing cabinet project is aimed exclusively at electrical equipment that operates on concrete pads on the ground and which is accessible to the public. Not only are these transformers and fusing cabinets — whose sizes range from small to huge — vital in feeding electrical power to customers, they also are safety issues.
In the utility board session earlier this year, current CU President and CEO Tom Wheeler — who is retiring Nov. 1 after 42 years — joined Borden in pointing to the importance of equipment maintenance. It’s not only good for the company, it’s a mandate for public safety, he said.
“What is so significant about this program is most of our facilities are up in the air,” Wheeler told the board in March. “But these facilities sit on the ground and they are accessible to the public ... so there is a greater safety issue. That’s why we pay so much attention to it.”
Borden described the pad mount transformers as the familiar green cabinets often seen near roadways and intersections, and throughout the CU service territory. Switchgear equipment is similar though it has its own distinct functions within the CU power distribution system.
“The process includes visual inspection and thermal imagery,” Borden said when introducing board members to the project earlier this year. “Any cabinets requiring painting will be sanded, primed and painted. All connections will be checked, obstructions to access the cabinets will be addressed and any safety-related issues will be corrected.”
The equipment is fed by underground cables and commonly serves apartment complexes, small commercial businesses, private residences and in some cases large industries.
In the earlier board session, Borden said the encompassing project involves “... our entire underground fed pad mounted equipment.”
In other CU Electric Division reports earlier this month, Borden provided the following updates:
n Work is continuing on the new district substation on 9th Street in south Cleveland; however, its progress has been hampered much of the summer due to an unprecedented amount of rainfall. In August, the substation’s steel erection was completed. The bus tubing and switch installation began and was 70 percent completed by the end of the month. Control cable was pulled into the trench system from the control house to the breakers and transformers.
- Of the ongoing equipment relocation project at Durkee Road and Benton Pike that will make room for a road widening project by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the state agency still has not secured the necessary easement documents to begin the work. Currently, TDOT is working on a temporary traffic relocation plan, Borden reported. To date, these plans have not been finalized. The road widening project, once all easements are secured and the improvements completed, will improve traffic flow on Durkee Road and Benton Pike in the vicinity of the new Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant.
- All line construction work has been completed on Phase 1 of the Brookes Edge apartment complex on Frontage Road. Project cost information should be finalized in September.
- In July, CU engineers completed the following plat reviews: Ridge Park Drive final plat (Spring Creek Commons revised final plat), Cross Creek Court final plat (Cottages at Spring Creek), Thompson Lane (subdivided a single residential lot), and abandonment of a right-of-way on West Lake Drive.