Resiliency on the Grid
From transmission improvements to plant operations, G&T continues strong operational performance
EnergyLines May 2020
In 2019, Hoosier Energy made significant progress on power delivery capital projects to update and improve aging infrastructure, while managing costs to maintain grid resiliency, according to Rob Horton, Chief Operating Officer at Hoosier Energy.
“We completed the projects that were planned, and we had strong safety performance from all sectors of the operations group,” Horton says. “When the plants were called upon, they operated well. Our outage times were predominately weather-related with very few due to a failure of our system.”
Operations crews made significant progress on the 345kV Transmission Management Plan. This project evaluates the structures that encompass the bulk electric system, starting with the older parts of the system.
“A lot of our infrastructure was constructed a long time ago,” Horton says, explaining that the 345kV structures are larger ones seen throughout the countryside. “We are making sure the structures are in good shape and replacing those that need replaced with newer and updated design protocols which will ultimately enhance reliability. This includes the poles or iron that make up parts of the structures.”
Other equipment being evaluated and replaced are recloser bypass fuse assemblies.
“Anytime crews enter a substation where we’ve identified an old fuse, we are replacing the assembly as part of normal maintenance,” he says. “If we’re going to take a substation down anyway, we go ahead and replace those fuses, in an effort to reduce the exposure when conducting the work on an energized substation.”
Substation projects advance
Because of delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Horton expects completion of the new Farnsley Road Substation in Harrison County to take place in the fall, while the Batesville Substation, a project with Duke Energy, is expected to be held to the end of the year.
With the pandemic slowing U.S. operations, Horton is working to ensure on-time delivery this summer of spare transformers for Decatur, Petersburg and Worthington primary substations.
Generation station savings
Providing a balance between capital expenditures and cost savings, Horton reports savings at generation resources.
In 2019, Holland Energy saved about $600,000 by receiving a favorable inspection on the selective catalytic reduction system, which prevented the need for replacement. This system is part of the environmental pollution control equipment that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions, similar to catalytic converters used on vehicles.
Economic reserve operations
Horton notes that Hoosier Energy offers our generating assets into the MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) market every day, and if it costs more to generate energy than to buy it, we don’t generate from that resource.
At the Merom Generating Station, being in economic reserve means the plant is not physically operating, but available if needed.
The workforce at the Merom Generating Station took advantage of economic reserve opportunities to perform minor maintenance work. This eliminated overtime rates and planned outage timeframes. In 2019, about 3,000 hours were in economic reserve, which totals about $2 million in savings.
An additional $250,000 in savings came from rebalancing the workforce between in-house and outsourced, including belt cleaning, locomotive operation and road watering to minimize fugitive dust.
“We’re doing and selecting the work we do in the most cost-effective manner to be able to provide the highest amount of stability to our 18 member co-ops,” Horton says.