Repairing equipment is a cost-effective way to keep smart grid reliable
At Hoosier Energy there is a repair shop at the Operations Center where voltage regulators get a second life.
At the shop, the smell of oil hangs in the air. Overhead there is a crane used to move equipment that can weigh as much as 10,000 pounds. Nestled in the corner is an oven the size of a bus. This is the place where voltage regulators for both Hoosier Energy and member systems are tested and repaired.
The shop has its own nickname – “The Pit.” Coined from the previous shop at the old Bloomington headquarters that had an oil containment pit used to safely store used oil before being recycled.
The work that takes place here is specialized. The skills required to successfully service regulators are taught from employee to employee as well as through specialized training. One employee passing along these skills is Substation Apprentice Jared Bartlett. Working in The Pit, Bartlett knows how the equipment works and integrates into the electric distribution system.
“It is interesting how simple by design this equipment is and how important it is to have on the grid so members have a properly functioning power system,” said Bartlett.
Often found on power poles and in substations, voltage regulators help deliver consistent voltage levels. This helps to properly supply electric equipment in your home if voltage fluctuates due to electrical storms or high demand on the electrical distribution system.
On average, it takes three to four hours to refurbish a unit. Work includes checking parts such as contacts and insulating oil. Then the team performs a functional test at over 7,000 volts.
But there is something that can wreak havoc on a regulator and it is something we use every day – water. To remove this liquid destroyer, the huge oven in the corner of the shop is put to use. In a few hours, hot air from the oven evaporates water from a unit before it is serviced. This simple step increases safety and reliability of the equipment.
The work being done reduces costs by increasing the useful life of the asset and saves time a unit would be out for service. Many of the units sent to the shop will go on to their second life – a life of safe, reliable, and cost effective service that can last up to 40 year.