Nebraskans tend to crank up the air conditioner to combat the heat and humidity of summers. The recent spell of oppressive heat – with indices up to 110 degrees – was a reminder of how hot it can get in the Midwest.
Such weather can also be tough on electric equipment, which is why OPPD takes added steps to help ensure reliable service when customers need it most.
“Transformers can get overheated with the extra use,” said Ricky de Aragon , Director of Grid Operations. “The oil that insulates a transformer and cools it also gets overheated and can fail. The heat and humidity can cause breakdowns.”
OPPD takes additional steps to ensure the system works when it is needed most. The utility has a team that works to strategically place new electrical infrastructure in the right places. These locations are based on usage history and future projections for usage to ensure circuits don’t overload.
In order to prevent more strain than necessary on hot days, OPPD crews postpone regular maintenance work that involves shifting electric loads. This shifting can add strain in other areas of the system.
Some instances mean a crew must replace a pole on a hot summer day. For example, after a car collides with a utility pole.
When the service territory is experiencing a heat wave, OPPD holds over extra crews to cover calls into the evening hours. This includes “store room” employees who ensure replacement equipment is available, if needed.
“We proactively plan so that we can provide a quicker response and get the power on faster, we don’t want our customers to suffer long in the heat,” de Aragon said.
Some additional steps OPPD takes during extreme heat:
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