It’s the dog days of… winter? That’s right.
“It’s important to prepare for winter peaks just like you would summer peaks, because winter peaks tend to be similar in capacity,” says Steve Allen, Manager of Field Operations at ElectriCities of NC. Since generator start times are when temperatures are at their lowest, winter temps can be even harder on equipment. “In some cases, electrical current on a feeder circuit can rise high enough to trip the feeder breaker, which leads to customer outages,” adds Jason Thigpen, Manager of System Operations at ElectriCities.
Here’s a checklist to prepare your utility for cold conditions:
- In general, run equipment at least every two weeks during winter to exercise it.
- Order fuel ahead of time when you anticipate snow or cold weather. Load management can last 4-6 hours on snow days.
- Increase the frequency of visual engine inspections, so you catch leaks before they’re a major problem.
- Check block and space heaters weekly, to keep your engine warm.
- Keep your fuel topped off, in case winter storms last longer than expected.
- Top off engine coolant, and be sure it meets cold temperature requirements.
- Check your generator’s batteries – are they charging properly? Are they well within their expiration date?
- Increase the frequency of generator run tests to keep engine parts lubricated.
When to lighten the load: If your feeder circuit loads rise to a point where feeder tripping is possible, consider implementing load management and voltage reduction as a way to drop some load and keep the lights on.
Note: Over the last six years, Duke Energy Progress has seen its annual system peak occur in the winter. Duke Energy Carolinas is still a summer peaking utility; however, polar vortex conditions are causing the winter peaks to get closer and closer to the summer ones.