Pole, underground utility inspections underway in August
Click here for a PDF of the story from the August "Energy Lifestyles Magazine"
HAMMOND, Wis., Aug. 4, 2017 - St. Croix Electric Cooperative has contracted with two companies who currently have crews working in the Cooperative's service territory:
- Utili-Tech Solutions (Stillwater, Minn.) is conducting pole inspections the end of July into early September in areas served by the Warren (sea green) and Troy (purple) substations.
- Karcz Utility Services (Pulaski, Wis.) will be inspecting ground-mounted underground utility equipment (the green transformer boxes located in most members’ yards) in August and September. Areas where they will be working are: Troy (purple), Glover (green) and Glenmont (yellow) substations in the southwest corner of SCEC’s service area.
Each of the contractors will be working in certain areas of SCEC’s service territory and members living in those areas have been sent letters, notifying them of the work and time frame contractors will be in the area.
Crew members for each of the contractors will be in vehicles marked with “Contractor For” vehicle magnets that display the SCEC logo. Additionally, each member of the crew is provided with an “Approved Contractor” badge from SCEC, which includes their name and photo.
Jeff White, owner of Utili-Tech Solutions (Stillwater, Minn.), is in the process of inspecting approximately 1,750 poles in areas served by the Warren (aqua) and Troy (purple) substations (see map). He will be working through early September. Pole inspectors can frequently be found on four-wheelers driving in the right-of-way areas under overhead power lines. A pole inspection begins as soon as White can see the next pole.
“I look up to see if there’s anything wrong with the hardware - anything that might help the Co-op out,” he said.
Once at the pole, White hits it with a hammer, listening for hollow spots. Next, he drills a small hole toward the base of the pole looking for hollow spots or signs of decay, such as darker or wet shavings. This helps measure the strength of the pole. He fills the hole with a preservative, then plugs the hole. If the pole passes inspection, he attaches a date tag to the pole with the year of inspection on it. A handheld GPS device allows him to enter information about each pole, including any visual defects he may have noticed.
Karcz Utility Services
In early August, crews from Karcz Utility Services began inspecting the green, ground-mounted transformers in areas served by the Troy (purple), Glover (green) and Glenmont (yellow) substations in the southwest corner of SCEC’s service area.
When a crew arrives at a green cabinet, they’ll clear out brush and vegetation surrounding the equipment. Then, using special gloves and a key, they’ll open the box. SCEC requires 12 feet of clearance from the front of the box so the crew can easily access the equipment inside, scan for hot spots or lightning damage, ensure all grounds are properly hooked up and equipment is in good working condition. According to SCEC Line Superintendent Rob Dooley, each cabinet is inspected on a five-year schedule. As demonstrated in the photos to the left, burrowing animals and ants can make a mess in the five years between inspections, so the amount of time to inspect and clean each cabinet varies by location.
Once a crew has cleaned out the cabinet and ensured all the equipment is properly functioning, they will check and - if necessary - replace any stickers on the front of the box that need to be refreshed. The crew evaluates the way the box sits on the ground and will repair holes as well as perform any maintenance to make sure the box is level. If needed, they will tag the box in the system for a crew to follow-up to repaint the equipment.