Completing exhaustive and time-consuming recovery initiatives spawned by last year’s late-April tornadoes is finally allowing Cleveland Utilities crews to return to pre-storm projects whose priority was lowered in place of more urgent restoration work.
One of those projects is the field work for new Peerless Road transmission and under-build distribution lines that resumed in December, according to Bart Borden, manager of CU’s Electric Division.
The Peerless Road project was put on hold not only because of critically needed repairs to the badly damaged electric distribution system, but also because materials intended for the Peerless improvements were used instead for restoration of CU’s electric grid, Borden explained.
“The April tornado events damaged 30 transmission poles [systemwide],” Borden said. “So, steel poles that had been purchased for the Peerless Road job were used to reconstruct the damaged lines.”
In laymen’s terms, it was a necessary case of “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul,” knowing that the Peerless Road project could be delayed because using its intended materials was vital to restoring the public utility’s badly crippled electric distribution system. The day after the tragic April 27 twisters, Cleveland Utilities engineers realized the storms had taken out roughly one-fourth of the existing electric grid.
CU General Manager Tom Wheeler earlier had pointed out the electric distribution system had taken years to build, but only a few hours to destroy. Thanks to around-the-clock efforts by CU workers and about 30 out-of-town electric crews, the distribution grid was restored within 11 days and power was returned to some 17,000 impacted customers.
That was then. CU’s Electric Division crews are now refocusing on abandoned projects like the Peerless Road improvements.
“We have received replacement poles and the storm recovery work performed has now allowed us to start working on the job again,” Borden said. “This job has presented us some challenges with the volume of roadway traffic and numerous rain days we’ve experienced this winter.”
Borden projected the project’s first phase will be finished by March 1, but stressed this is dependent on additional rainfall and whether crews will need to be pulled away for major emergency repairs in other areas of the electric distribution system.
The first phase extends from the CU Burlington Substation to south of old 25th Street. The second phase extends south of old 25th Street to 20th Street NW.
Borden also provided updates on additional Electric Division projects:
n Design work is under way to construct a three-phase distribution line from the existing Fletcher Substation on Freewill Road south of Triplett Circle to the existing Valleyhead Substation on Campbell Road. A circuit tie switch is being included in the design.
“This will allow both circuits to serve as a backup feed to the other during an emergency event such as we experienced during the tornadoes,” Borden said. “A section of this line will involve joint use with Volunteer Energy Cooperative. We are working with their engineers. VEC will realize access benefit by removing distribution lines from a pasture field out to the roadway.”
n Engineering design work has begun on a line extension of the East Cleveland circuit north to service the newly annexed terminal and service equipment of the Cleveland Regional Jetport. Borden said CU engineers are currently working with the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority to determine the level of service that will be required.
n The main line of communications to CU’s Payne Gap Substation’s supervisory control equipment has been converted from the old spread spectrum radio system to the new fiber optics communications system. Borden pointed out, “The fiber system allows for faster and more reliable communications.” Currently, only two of CU’s 15 substations remain on the old radio communications system. He said they are scheduled to be converted to fiber optics in 2012.