Working in the field is almost never routine.


Hoosier Energy’s Worthington Substation crew recently proved this yet again.


While substation foreman Ryan Reed’s crew, including Troy Woods and Dustin Cox, was testing breakers at the Merom 345kV yard on February 21, substation apprentice mechanic Cam Thomson noticed a broken insulator located nearby.


“It was a great catch, because this potentially saved an unscheduled outage,” said Tyler Manship, Transmission and Training Safety Specialist. “It was a routine test, something we do on a rotating basis, but it’s big anytime we can prevent an unscheduled outage.”


A visible crack is seen at the bottom of the broken insulator above. The keen eye of substation apprentice mechanic Cam Thomson caught the issue and allowed Hoosier Energy crews to fix the problem during otherwise routine maintenance at the Merom 345kV yard in February of 2023.

With the aid of the Worthington line crew, they were able to isolate the insulator, de-energize the ground and fix the problem on the spot.


It’s the product of being aware of not only potential safety issues but trends on the site. According to Ryan Moore, Area Coordinator Substations, crews in the past few years have occasionally found broken insulators at the Merom 345kV yard. Most of the switchyard was built around 1980 and still contains original buss work and structure. Over 100 insulators support the buss system that moves power through the switchyard, requiring vigilance from those doing work there.


“The Worthington Substation crew has diligently been looking over the insulators on site, especially when work or switching is occurring,” Moore said, noting a buss support insulator recently broke and fell during a storm with heavy rain and wind. “Crews are now scanning the switchyard and looking through binoculars to check insulators for issues.”


As a byproduct, there is a new focus on the aging equipment and infrastructure at Merom. Engineering has been on site, and a group is preparing to submit a capital project plan for work to update parts of the switchyard.


“This is all due to the diligence of our substation mechanics and other bargaining units and their quality of work for Hoosier Energy,” Moore said. “The crews provide service that is unmatched and take great pride in what they do for members.”


Part of that is not taking the routine for granted.


“Our guys are constantly looking around, because their life actually depends on it,” Manship said. “It can save a bad event or a power outage that could be catastrophic. They catch a lot of stuff.


“It’s not always publicized, but this is not an uncommon thing to catch something before it goes bad.”