Winter doesn’t faze CU projects
by By RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Feb 24, 2014 | 913 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
January was a month for the books and February is writing a chapter of its own, but amid the mixed blessings of rain, snow and an impatient spring, Cleveland Utilities electric crews are being kept busy just trying to keep the lights on and the heaters running.

And in spite of all this, the projects keep coming.

Most are the result of a growing community and the power consumption demands accompanying that growth. To borrow from a familiar adage, it’s all just another day’s work. But when listening to a recent monthly update by Bart Borden, vice president of CU’s Electric Division, members of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities learned it’s more than just one day. It’s a lot of days.

One of the newest tasks accepted by Electric Division engineers is a request by the Lee University building contractor — Tri-Con Inc. — to provide cost estimates for converting existing overhead power lines and poles to underground along the front of a construction project on Church Street that will become the new Communication and Arts Building when completed.

“The request creates the need for some expensive equipment and material due to the overhead lines being a main line with large conductor,” Borden explained. “Engineering is presently working on the request.”

At present, CU’s role is to analyze the project and to provide its costs to Lee University which would foot the bill for the conversion, if approved. The project will proceed only if Lee signs off on the cost, Borden stressed. This will not be a Cleveland Utilities expense, a question that was asked by CU board members.

As the local public utility tackles the blows of Old Man Winter, whose breath was particularly icy in January, it continues to focus on several ongoing projects.

According to Borden’s recent board update, a few include:

n Work on relocating transmission and distribution lines on Durkee Road and Benton Pike to accommodate a road widening project by the Tennessee Department of Transportation was slowed in January because of increased customer power demand created by near-record, single-digit temperatures. To accommodate growing energy needs, CU was forced to return the Ocoee Substation to service. It had been taken off line temporarily because of the TDOT road project.

“The need to have our Ocoee Substation out of service for the line relocation presented load problems for our Wildwood and Lang Street substations,” Borden said. “It resulted in several outages during the extreme weather conditions due to unbalanced loads and the need to switch heavy loads to other stations.”

He added, “Ocoee Substation was placed back in service and TDOT’s contractor was notified that the line relocation would be delayed until after the extreme weather had ended. We could not afford to have that situation (outages) continue to exist.”

n Another complex relocation project continues to dominate engineers’ attention. This is the TDOT APD 40 interchange project at Stone Lake Road.

“TDOT set a very aggressive deadline on utility relocation plans ... even though many critical decisions had not been reached on the relocation of TVA and Cleveland Utilities transmission and distribution lines,” Borden said. “Our engineering and operations managers and I met with our consulting engineer (Cannon and Cannon) performing the design work and finalized plans.”

In order to get CU’s full design plans and cost estimates, TDOT extended the deadline and Borden said the project is now “ ... moving forward into the design phase.”

n Another project facing delays due to the Durkee Road and Benton Pike line relocation was the installation of a tie line into the relatively new Chatata Creek Substation (which services the Whirlpool Cleveland Division manufacturing plant and Factory Distribution Center, and surrounding areas). The project remained on hold through December; however, extreme power load demand in January forced CU to resume the tie line work.

“Work on this project remained on hold due to the Durkee Road TDOT project for the entire month,” Borden noted. “However, the project work was resumed in January after the load issues we experienced during the extreme cold weather.”

He pointed to the project’s purpose.

“This tie line will provide another source to pick up an Ocoee Substation feeder circuit serving Highway 64, Bates Pike and a portion of Durkee Road,” Borden said. “During the extreme cold weather, this circuit experienced 395 primary amps, which is nine MW [megawatts] of load during peak times.”

This area struggled with power outages during January’s coldest periods, forcing CU to resume the Chatata Creek Substation project.

n New residential construction continues to chip away at CU’s available time. One is the Stonebriar Subdivision Phase IV which is an addition to the townhome development off Old Tasso Road. Borden said the addition consists of six new building lots and these will hold 24 new residential homes. CU issued a work order to install 1,745 feet of underground primary conductor, and one KVA and one 50 KVA pad mount transformer.

n Work was completed on installing 1,100 feet of underground primary conductor and a major pad mount transformer to provide permanent electric service to the new Jones Airways hangar at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

n CU crews completed work on the new Lee University crosswalk installation on North Ocoee Street which is expected to enhance pedestrian safety in the area while also improving the general aesthetics of the crosswalk. “It really enhanced North Ocoee Street,” Borden said. “Lee University is really pleased with the project. We are pleased with how it turned out.” Lee University paid for the project.

n CU engineers also released a work order to convert the traffic and pedestrian signals at Peerless Road and Raider Drive to LED (light-emitting diode), Borden said. LEDs are reported to have many advantages over conventional incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved physical robustness, smaller size and faster switching.

“Currently, 57 percent of the city signals have been converted to LED,” Borden cited. “Incandescent bulbs can no longer be produced in the U.S. as of Jan. 1. Presently, there is ample supply of incandescent traffic light bulbs and we have stocked up on replacements.”

n Borden also introduced board members to a new traffic signal (a flashing yellow arrow) that is being considered by CU traffic engineers for use in certain Cleveland intersections. He said the flashing yellow arrow signal “... is a combination unprotected/permissive signal that can replace a 5-section head (termed a “doghouse” among traffic engineers) or a protected-only head.” Borden said engineers are studying the signal format now to determine if its “... permissive period is safe during certain times of day.”

“The flashing yellow arrow is considered safer because it is a better indication for drivers to yield to opposing traffic,” he explained. “The flashing yellow arrow occurs during the same time that the green ball would occur on a 5-section head.”

If approved by CU traffic engineering and its consultants, the new signal would be recommended for use along 25th Street traffic signals. However, no final decision has been made.

Because the flashing yellow arrow would be so new to Cleveland motorists, as opposed to the more traditional green ball, additional information about its installation will be published if recommended by CU traffic engineers.

n Because of the cold winter, its impact on CU’s operating budget and the utility’s array of new and ongoing projects, Borden provided a brief update on the Electric Division budget. Through the end of December (halfway into the fiscal year), the Electric Division had expended 31 percent of its capital budget, he said. Of that amount, 25 percent represents cost to provide electric service to residential, commercial and industrial customers; 51 percent is cost of substation and line construction projects; 5 percent is cost to provide street and traffic lighting to the city; 4 percent is for the purchase of vehicles; and 15 percent is the cost for buildings and grounds, computer equipment, meters, fiber optic projects, stores and office.

Although the winter has been costly for CU, and it is involved in multiple projects, the Electric Division budget is well in line with projections, Borden explained. The Electric Division leader said he made the budget update because he wanted “... to give the board a good understanding of how we are efficiently controlling our cost.”