Reducing Wire-Down Incidents

It’s a fact, the frequency of downed power lines has been increasing, especially within the last few years as much of the equipment in many power grids enters the half century and older point. According to federal data, the U.S. electric grid loses power 285 percent more frequently than in 1984, when the data collection effort on blackouts began. That’s costing American businesses as much as $150 billion per year, the DOE reported, with weather-related disruptions costing the most per event.
The root causes of the increasing number of blackouts are aging infrastructure. Also, demand for electricity has grown 10 percent over the last decade, even though there are more energy-efficient products and buildings than ever. And as Americans rely increasingly on digital devices, summers get hotter (particularly in the southern regions of the U.S.) and seasonal demand for air conditioning grows, the problem is only getting worse.
The power grid, which could be considered the largest machine on earth, was mostly built after World War II from designs, equipment, materials, and technology that primarily date back to the ’60s and ’70s. Its 7,000 power plants are connected by power lines that total more than 5 million miles, all managed by 3,300 utilities serving 150 million customers, according to industry group Edison Electric Institute. The whole system is valued at $876 billion.
In the last few years a tremendous emphasis supported with billions of dollars in investment has been spent on “Smart Grid” technology with the focus on detecting or monitoring problems in the grid. Unfortunately, not much of that money or effort is spent PREVENTING the problems in the first place. If the true goal is to extend the life of aging transmission and distribution equipment, the best method for doing so will be to prevent failures from occurring. There really is a lot of truth in the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Here are two relatively inexpensive solutions to this potentially deadly problem; When analyzing wire down incidents, our research shows us that about 1/3 are related to connector failures. This can be an in-line splice, deadend, suspension clamp, T-Tap, etc. Connectors are not designed to last forever so in order to make sure they stay in the air where they belong, it only makes sense to protect and reinforce them and the best way to do that is with an engineered mechanical and electrical shunt like ClampStar®.
My second suggestion relates to line uprates. Many presently installed high voltage transmission lines can carry more power than the existing splices and other connectors, clamps and fittings used in their construction. Shunting these connectors with ClampStar® increases their performance such that they will now exceed ANSI C119.4 Class AA, extra heavy duty standards while meeting NERC requirements.
When it comes to extending the life of overhead conductors, it’s pretty simple, ClampStar® is an engineered mechanical and electrical shunt that significantly reduces whole-span wire replacement cost when installed over a connector or on a damaged portion of conductor to function as a permanent bypass electrical connection while maintaining tension in the conductor.  ClampStar® eliminates replacement of overhead splices and repairs damaged bare conductors through an easy, quick, and permanent fix. ClampStar® is also used to increase the performance of existing splices and other connectors, clamps and fittings for the purpose of increasing line ampacity that may presently be limited by such devices.

So, what do you think ?