Greenjacket drastically cuts customer outage minutes!

Westar Energy, Inc. is Kansas’ largest electric utility. It retails electricity to about 700,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers as well as local and municipal government for the lighting of public streets and highways.

Wildlife outages ranked as Westar’s second-leading cause of outages primarily from European Starlings, but also from Eurasian doves, owls, hawks, squirrels, snakes and larger mammals such as raccoons. A generic cover-up product was initially selected as a potential solution; however, the outages continued.

At five key substations, bird and animal-caused outages resulted in an average of 500,000 Customer Interruption Minutes annually, and Westar knew their customers expected and deserved better.

“In 2013, Westar selected five substations where we expected Greenjacket would provide the most benefit. In the three years leading up to that, animal and bird-caused customer outage minutes at those five locations averaged about 500,000 annually. In 2014, after Greenjacket was installed those outage minutes dropped significantly to 50,000, and then to zero minutes in 2015.”

Dave Claussen, Westar Executive Director System Maintenance

In addition to the precise-fit solution applied to existing substation equipment, Greenjacket Inc’s design team worked to develop barriers for their 12kV gang-operated disconnects. The barriers are mounted to the support structure between each phase of the disconnects without affecting their operation.  With the barriers in place, phase-to-phase contacts by birds and animals are prevented. Westar is considering adding the new product as a standard mitigation measure going forward.

“Greenjacket has proved to be a valuable investment and an effective solution in reducing wildlife-caused outages at Westar. Their thorough approach to surveying and applying coverage at vulnerable locations coupled with detailed installation practices have yielded a precise–fit coverage option that has significantly improved customer reliability where it has been applied.”

Bryson Cyphers, Director of Substation Maintenance

In October of 2017, Dave Claussen, Executive Director System Maintenance, made a presentation to the Westar T&D Summit where it was identified that Greenjacket had an impact of reducing wildlife contacts by 95% at 20 stations where Greenjacket was deployed… See the Full Case Study!

Under the Covers

Investigating Animal Mitigation Covers and Infrared Thermography

Greenjacket Inc. is pleased to announce that it has received permission to distribute a White Paper on the issue of IR Scanning of electrical equipment while it is protected by cover-up.

The Authors are Jay Bowen
Jay Bowen is an ASNT NDT Level III -TTIR Certified Infrared Thermographer and licensed master electrician. He has provided infrared training and consulting services to many hundreds of national companies for over thirty years. Jay quite literally wrote the book on infrared training having designed cutting-edge training materials. He has also directly taught thousands of infrared camera customers to properly operate and apply techniques of thermographic or infrared camera equipment.

And Will Bauer 
The Moment Group of companies researches and develops technology in movement computing and activated data. Moment also provides technical services to select clients regarding SRED reporting, consultation papers and technical writing. Moment’s founder Will Bauer (P.Eng.) is the company’s lead technology expert and engineering consultant. Will is the inventor of a custom gesture-based media processor, Spatio, and several applications currently driving the company’s technology. Company Research Director Pamela Anthony guides research and development and lends her experience as a journalist and writer to the company’s tool kit.

“I truly believe that the common misunderstanding of cover use inhibiting thermography is a fundamental miss in understanding the basic concepts of thermography and the over reliance on temperature criteria decision-making.”

– Jay Bowen

Executive Summary

This paper examines the potential to integrate two important means of preventative maintenance in electrical utility systems – bird and animal contact mitigation and infrared thermography. While the concept of reliable thermographic imagery of covered connections is conceptually valid, and practicably feasible, until now these two precautionary measures have ostensibly competing operational criteria.

With validation of this concept, electricity supply operators can develop training and field-testing protocols, using quantitative and comparative methods that can provide actionable preventative maintenance data.

To this purpose we will be looking at a recent study, conducted by Bowen Infrared, which addresses the issue through a series of controlled experiments.

Introduction

The essential goal of electrical utility preventative maintenance programs is to solve problems before they lead to safety concerns, unexpected downtime, and expensive outages.

Bird and animal contacts are one of the leading causes of electrical equipment failure and power outages for electrical utilities worldwide. Mitigation strategies safeguard both animals and electrical equipment. Contacts are preventable with properly fitted electrical component covers correctly installed during the life cycle of the equipment. Significant improvements to power system reliability can be achieved with the right protective cover-up.

Energy emissions that create anomalous hot spots in electrical systems are likely indicative of faulty connections or equipment failure. Infrared thermography is a diagnostic tool that measures surface thermal temperatures. It’s a non-contact method of viewing equipment which detects and displays IR data that may indicate equipment risks not evident to the naked eye.

These two forms of preventive maintenance programs have seemingly competing operational criteria. The cover’s primary function, to fully isolate contact points, creates an insulative barrier between the IR imager and the area being viewed.

If these preventative maintenance strategies could function together with a high level of confidence, electrical utilities could conceivably collect actionable data about operational fitness from thermographic imaging while mitigation covers are in place.

The following study, recently conducted by Bowen Infrared, addressed this issue. Through a series of controlled experiments, the study examined the potential efficacy and accuracy of thermographic imaging with mitigation covers in place over heated electrical connections.

The Study

The investigation was designed to determine if thermography is able to reliably detect the temperature of a connection point if it is under a cover, as well as how closely thermographic readings correspond to actual temperatures.

It further addressed the level of expertise needed to evaluate the thermography results, taking into consideration the variables in cover surface heat transfer. Finally, based on initial results, this report suggests options for testing and data collection in the field.

To download the full white paper, click here.

Protecting America’s Birds with Greenjacket

See Full article in Utility Products

Headquartered in Juneau, Alaska Electric Light and Power Company (AEL&P) provides retail electric service for approximately 16,768 customers.

The Lemon Creek substation is a key site for AEL&P in supplying backup power and electrical distribution to the city of Juneau. It is located near a landfill, a food source attractant to many species of avians. AEL&P had been proactively investigating and testing several avian protection options available in the marketplace. These efforts helped, but there was still a need for further improvement. Following a significant eagle-caused outage that was reported on by the media, the Greenjacket Team reached out to AEL&P to offer assistance in solving these issues. AEL&P recognized the Greenjacket solution was unique and best able to address the unique challenges they faced.

At times, literally hundreds of bald eagles congregate in the area and are very active in the substation as well. Eagles are some of the largest avians with wing spanning over 6-feet across, potentially resulting in contact with wider electrical component spacing associated with high voltage equipment. Eagle excrement can cause flash overs. These “streamers” can be up to 6 feet long.

Further evidence that the Lemon Creek substation was a high risk and problematic station was the statement from Joe Hacke, a 35-year lineman from Canada; “In all my years of attending substations for maintenance work, I have never witnessed such a large grouping (convocation) of bald eagles and ravens located near an in-service substation.  There is a garbage dump adjacent to the substation which is why they were there.  This station was definitely in need of some quality cover-up to reduce the station impacts according to the people I met on-site.”

According to Eric Eriksen, Vice President Transmission & Distribution, “We average about one eagle related transmission outage per year at Lemon Creek substation. These interruptions affect about 58% of our customers and it takes about 41 minutes to restore power to everyone. That is an undesirable impact to our community and to the eagles.”


Average Annual Indices (single event at L.C. substation):

  • SAIDI: 21 minutes
  • SAIFI: 58
  • CAIDI: 31 minutes

Total customers interrupted about 9,714 or about 58% of system.


The Lemon Creek site has several generation tie transformers, distribution transformers, voltage regulators, disconnect switches, buss, jumpers, lightning arrestors, PTs, vertical orientated transmission switches, and steel poles that have unique configurations. Only the made-to-order Greenjacket product could properly protect these unique configurations.

This project brought several challenges to the Greenjacket team besides the high concentration of bald eagles. The precise-fit, custom engineered equipment covers are a unique solution. To install the covers, AEL&P had to isolate part of the transmission and distribution system, which required running costlier diesel backup than the normal 100-percent hydro-power generation. Timely and efficient installation was important. The Greenjacket team provided online installation video instructions, well organized packaging, detailed assembly instructions, and field service assistance. AEL&P was very satisfied with the precision and success of the timely install, providing lower costs to its customers.

According to Mr. Eriksen, “The frequency of incidents averaged one per year. So, if a year goes by without incident, the initial assumption is that it will be a successful project, and our customers will appreciate the added electric service reliability and also protection for the avians.” He added, “It was also a pleasant surprise to receive several positive comments from people enjoying the vibrant ‘green’ color of the covers, compared to the typical dull grey of utility equipment”.

Greenjacket Reduced Wildlife-Caused Outages: AltaLink Case Study Part 2

This is the second in a two-part series that investigates the impact that Greenjacket has delivered in reducing the frequency of wildlife-caused outages to AltaLink, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

AltaLink, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company, is Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company. AltaLink manages more than 13,000 kilometers of lines and 300 substations. AltaLink is focused on delivering reliability, dependability, fair prices and exceptional service to its customers. As part of the effort to improve reliability, AltaLink adopted the use of Greenjacket. The following report on the statistical performance of Greenjacket, outlines the improved reliability performance effectively reducing the instances of animal and bird caused power outages.

95% reduction in the average load interruption duration in the 12 stations that historically have seen at least one contact every two years.

Effective Investment in Reducing Wildlife Caused Outages Over the Past 10 Years

Greenjacket continues to deliver significant results for AltaLink:

  1. A 94% reduction in frequency of wildlife-caused outages across the substations covered with Greenjacket
  2. On average, the outage rate due to wildlife contact has reduced from one outage every year to one outage every 10 years
  3. Reductions in load interruption duration has gone from 248 minutes to 12 minutes; an improvement of 95%

Greenjacket plays an important role in AltaLink’s focus on delivering reliability, exceptional service to their customers, and protecting the environment. AltaLink’s 10-year historical performance tracking proves the significant impact that Greenjacket has had on improving AltaLink’s reliability measures. AltaLink has written Greenjacket installation into its standards. Based on a risk evaluation, AltaLink continues to deploy Greenjacket within its remaining substations.

For more information on Greenjacket, please contact:
sales@greenjacketinc.com or call 1-877-448-9701 www.greenjacketinc.com

Greenjacket Reduced Wildlife-Caused Outages: AltaLink Case Study Part 1

This is the first in a two-part series that investigates the impact that Greenjacket has delivered in reducing the frequency of wildlife-caused outages to AltaLink, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

AltaLink, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company, is Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company.  AltaLink manages more than 13,000 kilometers of lines and 300 substations.  AltaLink is focused on delivering reliability, dependability, fair prices and exceptional service to its customers. As part of the effort to improve reliability, AltaLink adopted the use of Greenjacket. The following report on the statistical performance of Greenjacket, outlines the improved reliability performance effectively reducing the instances of animal and bird caused power outages.

AltaLink has tracked the performance of Greenjacket at its substations since 2005 and the improved reliability performance is significant.  According to Mike Bartel, VP Asset Management at AltaLink,

“Greenjacket has improved our load interruption duration performance by 95% at AltaLink substations where we had been experiencing frequent wildlife contacts/interruptions.  It is rare to find such an investment in reliability that essentially guarantees effectiveness. This type of improvement not only improves our reliability performance, it also improves our customer satisfaction and reduces our impact on the environment.”

93.8% reduction in the average load interruption frequency in the 12 stations that historically have seen at least one contact every two years.

In the 12 stations that have seen an average of one or more wildlife contacts every two years:

  • On average, the outage rate due to wildlife contact has reduced from one outage every year to one outage every 10 years.
  • On average, the load interruption rate due to wildlife contact has reduced from one load interruption every year to one load interruption every 19 years.
  • On average, the load interruption duration due to wildlife contact has reduced from 248 minutes per station per year to 12 minutes per station per year.

In the 47 stations that have seen an average of one or more wild life contacts every ten years:

  • On average, the load interruption rate due to wildlife contact has reduced from one load interruption every two years to one load interruption every 13 years.

Best Standard of Safety and Performance for Substations

You Deserve the Best Standard of Safety and Performance

The Importance of Standards – Why do we have them?

Standards are established in order to meet technical, safety, regulatory, societal and market needs.

Standards help create awareness and understanding of the importance of standards and the critical role they play in industry.

What we do to meet standards with IEEE 1656!

IEEE 1656-2010 TESTING PARAMETERS

Greenjacket and Reliaguard manufacture covers to prevent power outages caused by animal and bird contacts on energized equipment. Greenjacket’s and Reliaguard’s proprietary dielectric materials are used to make cover-up that is specially designed to protect both common and unique equipment configurations. Both Greenjacket and Reliatanium are formulated to meet specific test criteria of the IEEE Standard 1656™-2010.

 

The IEEE Guide 1656™-2010 is: 

  • The Approved Guide for Testing the Electrical, Mechanical and Durability Performance of Wildlife Protective Devices on Overhead Power Distribution Systems Rated up to 38kV.
  • Recognized by the electrical industry as the most comprehensive guideline to date for testing wildlife protective devices on overhead power distribution systems.

 

Greenjacket and Reliatanium Testing includes:

  • Flammability Testing
  • Salt Fog Aging
  • Ultraviolet Aging
  • Tracking and Erosion Resistance
  • Wet Power Frequency Flashover
  • Wet Withstand

 

When a flashover or contact occurs, cover-up that doesn’t support combustion is important for limiting damage to critical equipment and infrastructure. Our materials used in parts production has achieved a V-O flammability rating, the highest flammability rating, which means it does not support combustion.

More about IEEE 1656 with Greenjacket 

More about IEEE 1656 with Reliaguard 

 

Check out out New Corporate Video

Importance of Testing for Animal Mitigation Guards

Animal Mitigation guards should be tested to demonstrate they can accomplish the intended function of preventing wildlife contact with energized parts.

IEEE 1656-2010 “Guide for Testing the Electrical, Mechanical, and Durability Performance of Wildlife Protective Devices on Overhead Power Distribution Systems Rated up to 38 kV”, includes the tests described below for this purpose.

5.2 Wet withstand

This test is designed to demonstrate that contact with the surface of the guard will not result in a flashover. The guard is installed on a test fixture per the manufacturer’s instructions. An appropriate bare conductor is installed in the test fixture terminal and energized to 20% above rated voltage (26kV for a 38kV system). A grounded probe is moved over the entire surface of the guard.  A flashover or puncture is not allowed. As noted in the title, this test is performed wet (with precipitation conditions per IEEE std. 4).

Insulators, transformer bushings, cutouts, etc., have required electrical ratings and performance characteristics that have been verified through appropriate testing. Animal mitigation guards designed for installation on such equipment should be tested to ensure they will not negatively affect those ratings.

IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.3 Wet power frequency flashover

In this test, voltage is applied to the test fixture without a wildlife guard installed. The voltage is raised until a flashover occurs. The wildlife guard is then installed per manufacturer’s instructions and the test is repeated. The flashover value with the guard installed must be 90% or more per the manufacturer’s flashover value without the guard installed. As noted in the title, this test is also performed wet (with precipitation conditions per IEEE std. 4).

5.7 Salt fog aging—Testing for unusual service conditions

The “Salt Fog Aging” test is designed for extreme conditions such as coastal areas or other interior locations with the potential for high environmental fallout such as agricultural or heavy industrial areas.

This test is performed on guards in sequence after the Ultraviolet Aging test. For this test, the guard is installed on an insulator with the ground plane and conductor simulating normal installed conditions. The assembly is placed in a salt fog chamber and the conductor is energized at system voltage (19.9kV for a 34.5kV system) for 1000 hours. Flashover should not occur.

Animal Mitigation guards should be tested to demonstrate they will stay on and performance will not degrade due to UV exposure. IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.6 Ultraviolet aging

This test is designed to demonstrate that electrical performance of the guards is not affected after UV exposure. This test is performed on the same samples used in the Wet Withstand and Wet Power Frequency tests described above. Those guards are placed in a UV test chamber (UVA 340 lamps) for 1000 hours. The condition of the guards is noted and the Wet Withstand and Wet Power Frequency tests are repeated. A flashover or puncture is not allowed.

5.8 Retention

This test is designed to demonstrate guards will remain installed when exposed to extreme winds.  One test option is to install guards on a test fixture that simulates installed conditions.  Then, from various angles, the guards are exposed to a constant wind speed of 60 mph.  Guards must remain installed.

Animal Mitigation guards should also be tested to demonstrate flame retardant properties.

Guards that are not flame retardant can catch fire due to a flashover.  This can result in flaming material falling to the ground below and causing a wildfire.

IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.9 Flammability

The UL94 test is included as an option to demonstrate flame retardant properties.  A rating of V-0 is the highest rating and means that when exposed to a flame for 10 seconds, the material will self-extinguish a will not release flaming droplets.

 

Greenjacket’s Proprietary Material Formulation for Cover-up and Reliaguard ReliataniumTM guards pass all the above tests, which demonstrate:

Equipment ratings are maintained

Guards can prevent wildlife contact

Guards are not affected by extreme environmental conditions

Guards are flame retardant, will self-extinguish and will not drip flaming material

 

Some manufacturers publish only material tests results or material properties.  Such information does not demonstrate how the guards perform once they are installed.  IEEE 1656-2010 requires tests on actual guards to demonstrate electrical and environmental performance.  Performance of wildlife guards is a combination of good design, material formulation and material processing.  This can only be demonstrated through testing of the guards.  “Materials” tests tell only part of the story.

The Drive Toward Zero Animal-Caused Outages

Is it even possible to suggest that you can drive toward zero animal-caused outages?

Like many Canadian utilities, AltaLink’s experience indicated that nearly 20 percent of all outages were animal-caused.14 AltaLink’s animal-caused outages were specifically derived from bird contact on its low-voltage equipment, a situation that had become a rising trend in the early 2000s.15 Given this situation, and the cost of inaction, AltaLink undertook an animal-caused outage mitigation program that experimented with customized solutions. Its approach included testing a precise-fit electrical equipment cover-up solution that immediately yielded results, especially at certain problematic substation locations.

The positive outcome of the test phase led to the application of electrical equipment cover-up protection at all new substation installations as well as at retrofit sites. The program also included applying the precise-fit cover-up solution to five existing substations per year. By the end of 2013, it had 80 of its 280 substations protected, resulting in dramatic reduction of animal-contact frequency. For a substation that had experienced at least one animal contact outage every two years, the frequency of Wildlife Outages per Station Year dropped from 0.67 to 0.03 after animal-contact protection was in place. This represented a 95 percent frequency reduction that, in turn, became a very real SAIFI improvement of 3 percent and a SAIDI improvement of more than 8 percent. The drive toward zero animal caused outages is possible and is a win for customers, utilities, and the environment alike.

Pre vs. Post Cover-up Installation Outage Frequency – Graph 3

 

Wildlife-Related Outage Reduction – Graph 4

ACTION REQUIRED

Recommended Approach

Following the approaches outlined above can serve the needs of all stakeholders by ensuring an aggressive, cost-effective, customer-centric solution. This starts with the utility reviewing its outage reporting for all substation outages. Knowing where the most vulnerable substations exist supports a risk-based investment approach where high-probability, high-impact areas receive investment priority. Over time, implementation can be applied to all areas in order of priority, and risk containment can be accomplished. Having accurate data facilitates discussions with regulators who can subsequently support cost recovery considerations for these capital programs.

CONCLUSION

There is no doubt that when a major newsworthy outage event occurs on the electric system, customers grow increasingly aware of a recurring problem, which often is the driver behind major changes in approach. A good example of this is the Northeast Blackout of 2003, where 50 million customers within eight U.S. states and one Canadian province experienced electric outages for up to four days, with an estimated total cost between $4 billion and $10 billion. The Blackout cascade started when foliage contacted a power line, later driving new strong rules (NERC Reliability Standard FAC-003-1) and a deliberate response by the industry containing this source of outage. Despite what many previously felt were unavoidable vegetation-caused outages, this mandate has driven the change necessary to remove this doubt — a similar mandate and mindset change can affect animal-caused outages favorably as well.

Regulators should review their reporting requirements and ensure that there are no gaps in reporting across the various voltage classes. If gaps are identified, then best practices should be reviewed and implemented with an eye toward positively reducing animal-contact outages.

It is recommended that good utility practices, along with a collaborative approach between utilities and their regulators, are critical to ensure that a mutual understanding and prioritization of needs are achievable. This includes:

  • Funding for an Animal Protection Plan
  • Access to area-specific animal statistics
  • Support of cost recovery, including animal protection installation (capital) costs

Similarly, utilities stand to benefit by leveraging the information presented herein, evaluating their existing animal protection and mitigation programs for gaps and improvement opportunities, and exploring the latest techniques and technologies that can be installed across their critical systems. This effort to provide the increased reliability utility customers demand, and to reduce operating (outage) costs, results in a certain win-win outcome for all parties.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Mooallem, J. (2014) “Squirrel Power!” Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html (Accessed: 20 July 2016).

[2] Economic Benefits Of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages. Available at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/08/f2/Grid%20Resiliency%20Report_FINAL.pdf (Accessed: 2 May 2016).

[3] “U.S. power grid could be knocked out by a handful of substation attacks.” TV-NovostiAutonomousNonprofitOrganization (2016). Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/power-grid-knocked-out-substations-706/ (Accessed: 12 August 2016).

[4]  2 Paragraphs (2016) Squirrels – #1 threat to US electrical grid. Available at: http://2paragraphs.com/2016/01/squirrels-1-threat-to-us-electrical-grid/ (Accessed: 11 July 2016).

[5]  International Energy Agency (2009). Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Canada 2009 Review. Paris: OECD/IEA. ISBN 978-92-64-06043-2.

[6]  Transmission. Available at: http://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/transmission/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[7]  Kemper, C. (2016) “Animal Behavior and Protection at Electric Substations.” Interview with Colin Hassett on 10 March 2016.

[8]  CyberSquirrel1 (2015) CyberSquirel1.Com. Available at: http://www.cybersquirrel1.com (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[9]  University of Lincoln, “New research warns world to prepare for power outages.” ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127093033.htm.

 

[10]      Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (2005). The Cost of Wildlife-Caused Power Outages to California’s Economy. California Energy Commission, PIER Energy-Related Environmental Research. CEC-500-2005-030.

[11]      Mooallem, J. (2014) Squirrel power! Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 13 July 2016).

[12]      Mitigation of Animal-Caused Outages for Distribution Lines and Substations, (1999) EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif. 1999. Report TE-114915.

[13]      DeMontigny, M., & Horn, H. (2012). Guide to Accounting for Utilities and Power Companies. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/cfodirect/assets/pdf/accounting-guides/pwc_utilities_power_2013.pdf

[14]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[15]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[16]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[17]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

This post is the third in a series of seven excerpts from an electric utility industry white paper prepared by FTI Consulting, entitled, THE CASE FOR ELIMINATING ANIMAL-CAUSED OUTAGES IN ELECTRIC SUBSTATIONS AND ON POWERLINES. The full white paper may be downloaded by clicking here.

Risk and Asset Management Strategies

Good data provides the ability to make appropriate decisions regarding an animal-caused outage problem. Specific animal-caused outage metrics need to be identified and tracked during monthly asset management meetings similar to other operational reliability measures, such as System Average Interruption Duration Index (“SAIDI”), System Average Interruption Frequency Index (“SAIFI”) and Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (“CAIDI”). A more complete review of operational challenges can be performed, and the appropriate actions may be prioritized and acted upon. Suggested measures include:

  • Count of animal-caused outages (segmented by voltage):
    • System-wide
    • By planning area or region
  • Percentage of animal-caused outages compared with total outage numbers:
    • System-wide
    • By planning area or region
  • Number of substations with an Animal Protection Plan (deployment measure):
    • Planned vs. actual by voltage level
  • Number of substations inspected for animal-intrusion risk (i.e., damaged fences and damage mitigation equipment):
    • Planned vs. actual
    • Whether outage mitigation is complete or comprehensive
  • Number of lines/circuits inspected for animal-intrusion risk:
    • Planned vs. actual
  • Work plan completion for animal-caused outage mitigation equipment installations:
    • Planned vs. actual
  • Outage root-cause analysis completion rate (percentage)
  • Top 10 list of substations with highest animal-caused outages for the fiscal year (i.e., poor performer)

However, before acting on the results of the data, utilities must develop an asset management strategy that acknowledges the problem and their response to it. While animal-contact outage goals currently are not mandated by regulatory bodies, utilities should set aggressive goals at the asset class level to assist with the identification of the riskiest assets. Table 3 recommends the risk categorization that should be used to help identify and then target the riskiest assets so the prioritization for animal-contact mitigation can be included in the annual planning process. Once these assets are placed on the work plan for the appropriate fiscal year, tracking progress against the plan should be included in the regular monthly review period.

Table 3 – Recommended Animal-Contact Risk Characterization by Asset Type

Additionally, the dynamic nature of animal movement and migration, along with ever-changing environmental factors (e.g., urban expansion, industrial buildup, oil or shale exploration) requires a periodic (at least annual) review of substation assets that already have animal-contact mitigation equipment installed (see Figure 5). The results of this assessment should lead to root-cause analysis and then a plan for further mitigation — be it replacing the damaged animal-protection equipment or completely redesigning a mitigation plan. These considerations for existing assets may then be included in the risk scoring of the greater asset portfolio.

Cost Recovery Strategies

Since the installation of substation animal protection products is in the public’s interest, it is important for utilities to install the most appropriate solution that will correct the situation. While the cost and the sheer number of substations make the cost to implement a complete solution seemingly difficult to implement in a cost-constrained environment, utilities should capitalize the cost of these installations so they are included in the rate recovery process.

The capitalization of construction costs for a new substation installation can likely occur if the animal protection method is included early in the project initiation process. There is an additional benefit to installing the right protection at a new substation during the construction phase because the downtime that would otherwise be necessary to retroactively install animal guards, for example, is eliminated. Existing substations also can benefit from the capitalization of the installation if the costs are structured properly. Further, proactively installing animal protection yields additional cost benefits in the form of avoided costs that would otherwise be realized by outages.

Typically, retroactive installations would be a non-recoverable O&M expense; however, a capitalized cost case could be justified by meeting certain conditions. Specifically, if an animal protection device is categorized as a “betterment”, where it adds to the productive capacity or improves the efficiency of an existing facility, it could be capitalized.13

REFERENCES

[1] Mooallem, J. (2014) “Squirrel Power!” Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html (Accessed: 20 July 2016).

[2] Economic Benefits Of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages. Available at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/08/f2/Grid%20Resiliency%20Report_FINAL.pdf (Accessed: 2 May 2016).

[3] “U.S. power grid could be knocked out by a handful of substation attacks.” TV-NovostiAutonomousNonprofitOrganization (2016). Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/power-grid-knocked-out-substations-706/ (Accessed: 12 August 2016).

[4]  2 Paragraphs (2016) Squirrels – #1 threat to US electrical grid. Available at: http://2paragraphs.com/2016/01/squirrels-1-threat-to-us-electrical-grid/ (Accessed: 11 July 2016).

[5]  International Energy Agency (2009). Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Canada 2009 Review. Paris: OECD/IEA. ISBN 978-92-64-06043-2.

[6]  Transmission. Available at: http://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/transmission/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[7]  Kemper, C. (2016) “Animal Behavior and Protection at Electric Substations.” Interview with Colin Hassett on 10 March 2016.

[8]  CyberSquirrel1 (2015) CyberSquirel1.Com. Available at: http://www.cybersquirrel1.com (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[9]  University of Lincoln, “New research warns world to prepare for power outages.” ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127093033.htm.

[10]      Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (2005). The Cost of Wildlife-Caused Power Outages to California’s Economy. California Energy Commission, PIER Energy-Related Environmental Research. CEC-500-2005-030.

[11]      Mooallem, J. (2014) Squirrel power! Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 13 July 2016).

[12]      Mitigation of Animal-Caused Outages for Distribution Lines and Substations, (1999) EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif. 1999. Report TE-114915.

[13]      DeMontigny, M., & Horn, H. (2012). Guide to Accounting for Utilities and Power Companies. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/cfodirect/assets/pdf/accounting-guides/pwc_utilities_power_2013.pdf

[14]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[15]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[16]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[17]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

This post is the third in a series of seven excerpts from an electric utility industry white paper prepared by FTI Consulting, entitled, THE CASE FOR ELIMINATING ANIMAL-CAUSED OUTAGES IN ELECTRIC SUBSTATIONS AND ON POWERLINES. The full white paper may be downloaded by clicking here.

Asset Management Planning for Wildlife Outage Mitigation Planning

So, what should utilities do in a situation where they are having an animal-caused outage issue and do not know where to start when they are planning to install a new substation?

An animal-caused outage mitigation mindset must exist within all levels of a utility’s asset management process in order to completely manage the issue (see Figure 5). Utilities need to look internally to all of their processes to understand where there are examples of practices that work well and should be reinforced and also recognize areas of opportunity. Detailed in this section is a high-level review of the areas that should be reviewed, analyzed, understood, improved upon or implemented, when necessary, to support the drive toward zero animal-caused outages.

Asset Management Process with the Animal Protection Component Included Figure 5

You Get What You Measure: The Industry View

In order to understand the animal-intrusion issue, including the cause of the issue, utilities need to measure, establish targeted goals and then make informed decisions to meet or exceed those goals.

Utilities must begin by reviewing their management processes for collecting data relating to animal-intrusion caused outages and equipment damage. Utilities need to be more rigorous when it comes to collecting outage data. A lack of data or even inaccurate data can lead to inaction or inappropriate action being applied to a problem. There are a number of reasons why utilities may have difficulty obtaining data; however, performing a review of the data collection methods and driving improvements to the areas of weakness will address this threshold issue. Listed below are some of the top reasons why data has been incomplete or inaccurate and should be used to eliminate reasons why poor data collection processes exist:

  • A low-risk outage (momentary outage, limited customers affected, occurrence at night, etc.)
  • Data collection did not occur (operator/field personnel were busy, etc.)
  • Inconsistent or nonexistent reporting standards (operational drift)

Root-cause analysis, a necessary next step

While time consuming, performing root-cause analysis on a regular basis promotes the discipline necessary to completely understand the cause of any animal-contact issue. The analysis also will rapidly expose common themes, allowing for an informed decision on next steps and an optimized investment in equipment protection. Applying the same practices utilities commonly use for their existing safety-based root-cause analysis is an excellent start to ensuring that this methodology is applied correctly and swiftly.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Mooallem, J. (2014) “Squirrel Power!” Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html (Accessed: 20 July 2016).

[2] Economic Benefits Of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages. Available at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/08/f2/Grid%20Resiliency%20Report_FINAL.pdf (Accessed: 2 May 2016).

[3] “U.S. power grid could be knocked out by a handful of substation attacks.” TV-NovostiAutonomousNonprofitOrganization (2016). Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/power-grid-knocked-out-substations-706/ (Accessed: 12 August 2016).

[4]  2 Paragraphs (2016) Squirrels – #1 threat to US electrical grid. Available at: http://2paragraphs.com/2016/01/squirrels-1-threat-to-us-electrical-grid/ (Accessed: 11 July 2016).

[5]  International Energy Agency (2009). Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Canada 2009 Review. Paris: OECD/IEA. ISBN 978-92-64-06043-2.

[6]  Transmission. Available at: http://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/transmission/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[7]  Kemper, C. (2016) “Animal Behavior and Protection at Electric Substations.” Interview with Colin Hassett on 10 March 2016.

[8]  CyberSquirrel1 (2015) CyberSquirel1.Com. Available at: http://www.cybersquirrel1.com (Accessed: 1 August 2016).

[9]  University of Lincoln, “New research warns world to prepare for power outages.” ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127093033.htm.

[10]      Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (2005). The Cost of Wildlife-Caused Power Outages to California’s Economy. California Energy Commission, PIER Energy-Related Environmental Research. CEC-500-2005-030.

[11]      Mooallem, J. (2014) Squirrel power! Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/squirrel-power.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 13 July 2016).

[12]      Mitigation of Animal-Caused Outages for Distribution Lines and Substations, (1999) EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif. 1999. Report TE-114915.

[13]      DeMontigny, M., & Horn, H. (2012). Guide to Accounting for Utilities and Power Companies. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/cfodirect/assets/pdf/accounting-guides/pwc_utilities_power_2013.pdf

[14]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[15]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[16]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

[17]      Heck, N. and Sutherland, T. (2016) Electric Energy Online. Available at: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/show_article.php?mag=92&article=742 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

This post is the third in a series of seven excerpts from an electric utility industry white paper prepared by FTI Consulting, entitled, THE CASE FOR ELIMINATING ANIMAL-CAUSED OUTAGES IN ELECTRIC SUBSTATIONS AND ON POWERLINES. The full white paper may be downloaded by clicking here.