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Employees and retiree team up to complete reliability project

by on June 23, 2016
Retired Appalachian Power line inspector Jim Lane stepped out of retirement to coordinate the Austinville conversion project.

Retired Appalachian Power line inspector Jim Lane stepped out of retirement to coordinate the Austinville conversion project.

(Story by Teresa Hamilton Hall)

WYTHEVILLE, Va. — Years of planning on the part of Appalachian Power employees, and even one well-known and respected APCo retiree, will generate much needed reliability improvements for customers in a Virginia community.

The improvements involved upgrades to the overloaded and aging Austinville station transformer and surrounding circuits in rural Wythe County. Tim Hall, a senior engineer with distribution planning, said the work was critical to keeping the lights on for nearly 3,000 customers served by the substation.

“A station transformer failure prior to the conversion, which we felt was imminent, would have left customers without power and with no available circuit ties to transfer to,” he said. “The restoration effort with this scenario would have required the use of a mobile station transformer, thus making the outage recovery a lengthy process.”

To accomplish the work in the field would require organization. “They say the devil is in the details and there was just one person we knew who could make this project happen,” said Jon Fitzwater, senior engineer.

Retired Appalachian Power line inspector Jim Lane, who has a reputation for digging deep into the details of a project, stepped out of retirement for the third time to coordinate the job.

“He’s outstanding at what he does,” explained Fitzwater. “You give him a project and he follows through with it to the end.”

The two distribution circuits served by the Austinville station were operated at 12kV with no neighboring circuit ties and were surrounded by 34.5-kV distribution. According to Hall, this created an “island” effect.

“We chose to replace the station transformer with a 34.5-kV transformer rather than replace it with a larger 12-kV transformer, and convert the two circuits from 12kV to 34.5-kV operation to eliminate this problem.”

The conversion was completed May 24. Lane’s colleague Elizabeth Whitman, senior technician in Pulaski, echoed the sentiments shared by Fitzwater.

“Yes, Jim’s all about the detail,” she said. “This was tedious work converting miles of line and hundreds of transformers from 7.2 kV to 19.9.”

Fitzwater says don’t be surprised to see Lane as a contractor on other projects in the future. “If he’s available and willing we would welcome him back,” he said.

From → News From AEP

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