ST. MARYS — Midwest Electric is budgeting $5 million in investments in power reliability and electric operations in 2021. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the cooperative is not planning an electric rate increase this year, which would mark 11 years since its last rate change in Aug. 2010.
Primary components of the 2021 work plan include:
• Continuing the multiyear installation of a distribution automation (DA) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which will reduce the length of major outages by using automation to remotely and quickly transfer load (or “backfeed”) from one source to another. Currently, a main feeder outage could last three hours or more. After distribution automation, an outage could last 15 minutes. The goal is to eventually make this switching capability available system-wide to 17 substations and metering points. In 2021, the project will continue in the Moulton, Noble and Cridersville areas. SCADA is planned for Midwest’s Sharpsburg substation.
• A budgeted 10 miles of single-phase line rebuilding in the Kossuth metering point area. This involves replacing old copper lines with higher-strength aluminum and replacing poles where needed.
• Underground line rebuilds are budgeted in Meadowbrook subdivision (Cridersville), Beverly Hills subdivision (Wapakoneta), and Southmoor Shores subdivision (St. Marys).
• Pole testing in the Coldwater, Sharpsburg, and Spencerville substation and metering point areas. All 33,000 of Midwest Electric’s poles are tested on a 10-year cycle for sturdiness and reliability. Typically, less than 1 percent fail the test, and those are replaced.
• Tree trimming in the Lake, Moulton, Cridersville, and Amanda substation and metering point areas. Tree pruning is performed on a five-year cycle throughout the co-op’s 1,522 miles of power line. Trees and branches are a primary cause of power outages and blinking lights.
• Buying new equipment, which includes a 41-foot bucket truck, meters, transformers, line reclosers, voltage regulators, and poles.
• Additional information technology (IT) hardware and software as technology expands deeper into our electric operations areas such as digital electric meters, SCADA, DA, and remote monitoring and control.
• Start the planning process with an engineering consulting firm on a new, 4-year construction work plan.
“Our engineering staff does an impressive job of planning for the future growth and power reliability needs of our members, and the operations crews are dedicated to restoring power safely and efficiently,” says CEO Matt Berry. “Best yet, we’ve been able to do this – and return millions in patronage cash back to our members – without raising electric rates for the past 11 years. Our last rate change was August 2010.”
For updates on construction throughout the year, follow Midwest Electric on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Have questions about upcoming construction in your area? Give Midwest Electric’s office a call at 800-962-3830.