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Duke hears outage criticism

Concerned residents spoke out on issues regarding Duke Power at the East Lincoln Betterment Association’s meeting Thursday night.
Many residents were concerned with the numerous power outages that have occurred in the area over the past two years.
One of great importance was an area-wide all day outage which happened on Jan. 26.
“How are we supposed to feel reassured that this won’t happen again?” asked Denver resident Susanne Sellers.
A remorseful Dennis Scearce, construction and operations zone manager with Duke Power, said the company is determined to keep Denver’s lights on.
“It was a mess, I admit it,” Scearce said. “But we are aware of the growth.”
Scearce said Duke Power’s new president, Ruth Shaw, is committed to keeping Denver a top priority.
Shaw took over as CEO in October 2004.
“I am more proud of Duke Power than I have ever been,” Scearce said. “Ruth Shaw has customer satisfaction as a top priority.”
The project, called the Denver Reliability Improvement Plan, is something that Scearce has been working on since March 2004. It is a concentrated effort to deal with service that has deteriorated, mostly connected to the lack of tree trimming efforts and the circuitry that has not been upgraded to account for the rapid growth.
Tree trimming will now happen more frequently. What was once done every nine years will now be done every six.
As part of the reliability plan, there are several projects that Duke Power has completed or is currently working on.
The completed projects include trimming trees on the Webbs Chapel circuit. Excessive tress falling on power lines can cause power outages.
“Trees are the biggest problem in power lines,” Scearce said. “Ice sticks to the trees and then they break. Wires can hold ice but not trees.”
A reliability review of both circuits to replace equipment of components as needed has also been completed.
Animal proofing and other protection for transformers has also been done.
Animals such as squirrels and snakes can often lead to unnecessary problems.
A gray plastic cone is used to help cover up wires.
An evaluation of a circuit design to minimize the potential number of customers affected by an outage has also been completed.
Trimming trees on the Triangle circuit, another current project is ahead of schedule.
A replacement of a conductor on the Triangle substation circuit should be completed by April.
Also by the fall, a new circuit out of Webbs Chapel substation will be up and running to aid with the increased capacity.
“The brand new circuit is to account for the growth,” Scearce said. “We see it as a big need for next year.”
There are approximately 100 people working on the plan. All work is scheduled to be complete by May except for the new circuit at Webbs Chapel which is scheduled for the fall.
Although there are many improvements that have been made, there are still some things that “are against me,” Scearce said.
Some of the events that can affect power delivery include:
· ice storms
· hurricanes
· tornadoes
· major thunderstorms – wind and lighting
Some of the other issues brought up with Duke Power included the lake level.
“I think it was a cause of concern after the rains and the lake level was very much higher,” said Judy Browne, a Denver resident. “Is there someone we can talk to on how to control the height of the lake?” Scearce said Duke Power, which employees a 24-hour meteorologist, had predicted 10 inches of precipitation but had underestimated and double the amount was received.
Scearce said this was a rare occurrence. The lake had not been that high since 1985.
The most important thing that residents can do in the event of an outage is call Duke Power.
The automated system, 1-800-PowerOn, helps Duke Power by recognizing one’s phone number and even seeing which circuit one is connected to.
For more information visit dukepower.com.

by Amy Wadsworth

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