Glass replacement at the speed of light

11The village of Speculator and the town of Wells, both residing in Hamilton County, are located in the heart of the Adirondacks, a massive forest and mountain system comprising over 6.1 million acres in upstate New York.  This ecosystem creates difficult challenges for our crews when faced with repairs, and such a challenge was faced by the Gloversville overhead line crew.

When the insulators began to fail on the Northville-Wells #1 and the Wells-Gillman #2 lines, causing power interruptions across the service territory, a plan had to be implemented to rectify this.  Since 2011, there had been 16 separate outages, affecting about 3,000 customers each time, with each one lasting on average of 14 hours.

The engineering group on the project, led by Greg Ryder, Dave Perfitt and Dominick Fuda analyzed the existing data and determined that the failing insulators were being compromised by both weather and age, and 50 structures in all needed glass insulator replacing.  The lines, which had been installed in 1995, would be left intact. The challenges were finding a way through the mountainous and rocky terrain which composed much of the 27 miles of lines and minimizing any required outages to our customers. Unfortunately, the Sub-Transmission construction that is in place, along with a distribution under build, prevented using typical hot-stick methods to perform the work.

“There is no question that the terrain is challenging up here, and getting through our right-of-way structure is difficult,” said Phil Richards, Sr. Supervisor of T&D Overhead out of Gloversville.  “But these crews are great, and we have really stepped it up to get this done job quickly.”

Ryan Doyle, Sr. Supervisor of T&D Overhead, also from Gloversville, explains why.

“We initially had planned this job to be about a week,” he said.  “But we were expecting several days of inclement weather.  Everything on this job went off without a hitch, and as a result, we were able to get the insulators replaced in three days, working about 10 hours a day.”

The replacement glass increased all the insulators’ strength and reliability, which will drastically cut down on service interruptions in the area.

To minimize the amount of time that any customers were out of power during the upgrade, two generators were brought in from Sunbelt Rentals out of Massachusetts.  The generators, each capable of carrying 2.5 MW along the Wells-Gillman #2 line, were implemented during the project to keep power supplied to the customers along the feeder. The only interruptions that were required were extremely short in duration, and were required for safety purposes when the generators were placed on and off line.

Jim Backus, Capital West Manager of Overhead Lines, attributes the success of this project to the coordinated effort of several departments.

“We had a true team effort in coordinating this project from Forestry, ERCC, Stations, Engineering, TLS, and overhead line barns from Northville, Gloversville and Cobleskill and the Equipment Operators,” he said. “I cannot say enough how professional all performed both from a safety and productivity stand point. Steve Greenhill was the B Foreman of the job for Local 97 and truly took the lead from a field construction crew standpoint.”

Check out pictures of the project…

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