Yesterday, DJ’s Electrical employees installed an automatic high-voltage switch on power lines along SE Stark Street. This new equipment allows PGE to manage its power system remotely. As part of this project, workers upsized one utility pole and reworked power lines on SE Stark from 80th Ave to 76th Ave. This work will strengthen the local power supply against the upcoming winter storm season and allow PGE staff to restore power faster in an outage. During construction, traffic cones blocked one lane of traffic on Stark, enabling bucket trucks to work next to the power lines.
Workers replaced power line equipment at several locations in Montavilla town on October 27th. To support new heavy equipment, crews installed a replacement utility pole near the Montavilla Farmers Market. The removed street light pole supported service lines to a local business but otherwise did not connect with the power distribution lines above. In addition to supporting new high-voltage electric switches, the taller and thicker pole is comparable in size to others on the block, adding another support point for the power lines along Stark Street.
Linemen are installing Viper® “recloser” switches along Stark street. These units “detect and interrupt faults in the power line,” explained Jonathan Hutchison, a PGE’s Communications representative. These new network-connected units operate remotely without the need to dispatch technicians to the site when restoring power. Hutchison went on to say that the central management of reclosers is essential to fast power restoration after an incident. “The ability to operate remotely allows for power to be redirected quickly, which reduces the length of outages.”
An employee of DJ’s Electrical working on this project said this team had installed similar equipment at many sites along Stark Street in the past month. As a power line professional, he is impressed with the new technology and its impact on power outage response time. Storm damage can break power lines or cause shorts that trigger an emergency shutoff of large sections in the electrical network. Crews historically had to drive out to the site and manually isolate the damaged area before power could return for most of the affected customers. This remotely controlled system will do the same isolation and re-energization work from the central office, letting linemen focus strictly on repairs.
Stark Street represents the north edge of PGE’s power grid in Montavilla, with Pacific Power operating service for the homes and businesses north of that street. Last winter’s ice storm caused prolonged outages in all areas of the city. With the current investment by PGE, they hope to reduce the impact caused by future storms on their customers. If your power outages seem shorter this season, it may be due to work taking place this Fall.