Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reporting the News

Once again it is time to set the record straight to help our customer/owners understand what the EPB is doing in light of the image painted by the Glasgow Daily Times. Recent news stories, while factually accurate, have certainly painted a picture that depicts images which are not at all accurate.

First, let’s talk about our contractual relationship with Dana Corporation. At our last board meeting I gave a detailed report on the specifics of our relationship with Dana before and after their bankruptcy filing. Even though the details of the EPB’s relationship with a private company are protected by that company’s rights to privacy, we started the discussion with the GDT reporter still in the room. Once we realized we were discussing a matter which should have been protected by Dana’s privacy rights, we went into an executive session and asked the reporter to leave. The next morning I also called the GDT Editor and asked them not to run information about our relationship with Dana because it should not have been discussed in an open session and since the information might tend to cause worry and strife for the families of the employees of Dana Corporation in Glasgow. However, as many of you saw, they denied my request and ran the story about our contract negotiation difficulties with Dana anyway.

The newspaper clearly had the right to run this story since we discussed some of it in a public session of the EPB. However, their reasoning for running it and unnecessarily alarming the families who depend on their jobs at Dana is simply not clear to me and, in my opinion, is not justifiable. Even though we had a nice discussion with the GDT Editor, he was not swayed by our effort.

The good news is that we now have a fully executed power contract with Dana Corporation and we are very confident that they will continue to flourish and prosper here in Glasgow. The EPB is working with them every day to make sure we cooperate to help them reduce their cost of doing business here and, thus, continue to be successful as a reorganized and revitalized operation and asset for the people of Glasgow. That happened through our determination to constantly build a better life for families in Glasgow. It was not a result of sensational headlines in the local paper.

Next, let’s talk about the next big headline you saw last week regarding our "massive" three gallon spill of oil from one of our substation transformers. How this became one of the big news stories from our last board meeting is beyond my ability to comprehend. Actually, the real news from the many, many items that were discussed in that meeting, was about the big decisions we are making about the design of the new power delivery substation which will be critical to life in Glasgow for the next fifty years. We spent nearly an hour discussing the intricate details of this decision and the millions of dollars which will be spent and saved over the next decades as a result of these decisions. Still, that did not become a headline. A small report about a very small leak at a transformer inside a fenced and highly secured substation did become a headline. Go figure.

For anyone who really cares about transformer oil leaks, here is the rest of the story. The EPB owns and operates ten large power transformers and about five thousand smaller distribution transformers. These transformers are all filled with oil of one form or another. Some of them were manufactured during a time when that oil was contaminated with PCB’s. On occasion, these transformers leak oil. When they do, we clean them up and notify the proper authorities if the oil is contaminated and regulated by federal or state law. Some of these leaks are inconsequential. Some of them can cost a lot of money to clean up. Those are the ones that I feel the EPB Board needs to hear about. However, my reporting those to them should not alarm any of the folks in Glasgow that their power is going to go off.

As you move about Glasgow, you will note that we have several substations around town (nine of them actually). We have that many so that the failure of any one of them can be accommodated by transferring the load to another substation. While it is true that we have had a number of events over the last few months that have caused us to utilize our redundancy plans more than we would like, there is no reason to believe that we are headed for darkness! We have a plan for this. We work every single day to improve our networks and make them better able to deliver reliable services to our customers. These facts are reported to the board members in an effort to keep them informed of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Why the local newspaper likes to transform these reports into “The Sky is Falling” type headlines is, again, beyond our ability to understand or control. However, due to the magic of the internet, we can at least continue to publish these explanations of what is really going on for you. We hope you continue to look here for the information you need to know about the EPB, the utility that you own.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What are they doing?

What they are doing is putting the finishing touches on the replacement of about ten poles damaged in the November 5, 2007 storm that also destroyed a warehouse on the EPB campus. This crew from Pike Electric has been working in Glasgow for nearly a year. Half of that time has been spent repairing the main transmission circuit carrying electric power to the city of Glasgow.

This particular pole is at the corner of South Green Street and L. Rogers Wells Boulevard and it carries a 69,000 volt transmission circuit as well as two 12,470 volt distribution circuits. It has taken us nearly six months to repair all of the damage done to these facilities in about thirty seconds on the afternoon of November 5. These repairs have been time and money consuming, not to mention, quite dangerous.

Of course, the 69,000 volt portion of the work cannot be performed while the line is energized, so we have been looking for mild weather when the city's electric power needs could be met by using other sections of the transmission grid. That is part of the reason for the long period of time to affect the repairs. That is also the reason why we are rushing to get this section of line repaired because hot weather could arrive at any time. When it is hot, this section of line must be in service or the city's energy needs will not be met.

Another big project has been repairing the damage done, by the same storm, to our substation structure at Cleveland Avenue and L. Rogers Wells Boulevard. This steel structure was heavily damaged and torn loose from its foundation. If you look closely as you drive by, the tall lattice structure is still leaning a bit to the south. While it is now firmly reattached to the concrete foundation (thanks to some innovative design work by our friends at American Engineers), the steel was actually bent during the storm and the structure is not perfectly plumb as it should be. So, at some future date we still have to figure out how to replace it.

With a few more days of nice mild weather, Pike Electric and the Glasgow EPB team will get all of this portion of the electric grid put back together just in time for the hot weather to come and the additional spring storms that will try to tear it all down again! Such is our battle with nature.

At the same time we are also just putting our R.R.Donnelley Substation back together after the intense fire damaged the main transformer in that facility back at the end of last summer. Within a week or two, that piece of vital infrastructure will also be back in service for our community. When that happens it will be the first time in almost a year that Glasgow's electric grid will be back up to full capacity. Speaking on behalf of the Glasgow EPB team, we hope it stays that way for a long, long, time.