With all the complex issues that go in to maintaining transmission system reliability—voltage support and coordination of protection systems, for example—there are still many simple, low-tech problems that are major headaches for system operations and maintenance. You’re probably aware of the importance of vegetation management. Trees touching power lines have been a leading cause of blackouts. But what are some of the other problems encountered?
Animal incursions are common and can lead to a variety of failures. Birds build nests on insulators. Raccoons dig under fences, climb poles, and walk the wires. seo analysis . Compromised insulation and faults can be the result. A deer on the lines is a little unusual, but you get the idea.
People aren’t innocent either. At current commodity prices, copper theft has become a significant problem for many utilities. I’ve heard more than one manager of a rural utility complain about insulators being used for target practice. And check this video out for the modern version of tilting at windmills:
Even when trying to perform proper maintenance, low-tech problems can surprise you. At one utility where I was performing a condition assessment, they told the story of how a worker driving a mower accidentally clipped a guy-wire. The cable snapped up and wrapped itself around all three phases of the transmission line.
The lesson? Don’t get so caught up with technology that you forget the basics. Also, “stuff happens.”