Preventing power outages
Power outages are inconvenient and disruptive to everyday life. It is impossible to prevent all power outages from happening, but through predictive practices and proactive maintenance we continue to reduce the number of customer outages and the time customers spend without electricity when outages occur.
- The most important thing Westar does to prevent outages is trim trees. Through ReliabiliTree, our enhanced vegetation program, we have reduced tree-related outages in trimmed areas by more than 60 percent.
- Crews routinely walk the electric circuits path to perform maintenance. This means they may be in yards or alleys. All Westar and contract crews carry employee ID and will provide credentials if asked.
Wildlife prevention equipment
We love wildlife and don't want to see them get hurt on energized equipment or disrupt power for our customers. One challenge with wildlife related power outages is that different areas of our service territory have different wildlife problems. In some areas, birds may be the problem, while in others it might be raccoons, snakes or squirrels.
Predictive maintenance (PdM) technologies allow Westar to detect problems closer to when they occur. This helps prevent more serious problems and power outages that require unplanned maintenance. PdM such as infrared thermography (IR), Corona, Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) and Doble testing processes help to test equipment health.
Using Infrared thermography (IR), teams look at equipment and wiring along circuits. Infrared radiation captures differences in temperature when equipment is not functioning properly. Worn or dirty equipment is identified and repaired before failure occurs causing customer interruptions.
With the use of an ultraviolet (UV) camera, helicopter crews are able to detect electrical corona and arcing. Corona occurs when the air in the vicinity of a high-voltage component is ionized due to a high electrical field. Corona is not visible to the human eye and not detectable with an IR camera. Being able to detect corona discharges allows us to effectively plan for repairs before failure occurs.
Dissolved Gas Analysis
Dissolved Gas Analytics (DGA) is used to determine the health of large transformers on our system. Just like a doctor uses blood samples to test, trend and monitor a patients health, we use DGA samples to determine the condition of critical transformer components. Increases in hydrogen, ethane and carbon monoxide can indicate a fault occuring inside the transformer.
Insulation Power Factor Testing
Insulation Power factor testing or "Doble testing," is a major part of substation maintenance. Doble testing is performed on different substation parts and includes a variety of tests. The results of doble tests can tell us such things as cooling oil contamination.
Maintenance and inspection practices
If you see a Westar or contract crew in your neighborhood, it could be for routine maintenance. Westar takes a proactive approach with maintenance programs to catch problems before they become emergencies.
Ground line pole inspection
During this inspection, crews are looking at poles older than ten years old for damage such as rot, decay, public damage or woodpecker holes. After initial inspection, work is performed to address problems. Repairs to a rotting pole may include digging around the base of the pole and installing a water proof wrap to prevent future decay. Poles discovered with significant rot just below the ground may be good candidate for trussing with steel or fiberglass. This technique allows Westar to restore pole strength and integrity at a lower cost than replacing the pole.
By coordinating the right fuses and devices on electric power lines, Westar Energy minimizes the number of customers affected during a power outage. Westar Energy crews review the fuses and devices installed and determine if equipment should be added or replaced.
Pole and line standards
- All overhead distribution pole line installations are designed to meet the IEEE National Electrical Safety Code's Grade C construction standards. Grade C is the common national standard for distribution electric circuits.
- New lines are built to meet the National Electric Safety Code, ANSI C2. This standard means that our new lines and poles are designed to support 1/2 inches of radial ice in 40 mph winds.
- Following an ice storm in 2007, we analyzed the design of our 34.5 KV system. 34.5 KV pole line installations are now designed to meet NESC Grade B construction. Grade B is typically reserved for large transmission line construction (69 KV and up).