Reliability: It’s a full time job

Posted on Jul 11 2021 in Noble REMC
Noble substation
Noble REMC’s operations crew works on improvements during scheduled maintenance at the Skinner Lake Substation in Albion in early June.

Much like taking a car in for an oil change, Noble REMC’s electric grid system goes through routine maintenance to ensure its reliability in providing power to our members.

It’s not the most visible work that we do, but it’s some of the most important.

“It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive,” said Operations and Engineering Manager Doug Dickmeyer. “One of my priorities is focusing on scheduling preventative maintenance.”

The most recent example was our restoration and upgrade of our Skinner Lake Substation early last month.

Noble REMC’s substations are tested every five years by an outside contractor, which spurs changes when opportunities for improvements are found.

While it was de-energized, our operations and engineering crews worked to replace and install additional switches at the substation, allowing flexibility in transitioning how power is distributed if the substation experiences an outage or needs maintenance.

The Skinner Lake Substation is now one of four substations (out of our seven) which has this additional capability to be flexible on shorter notice. This is vital for the substation, which feeds the industrial park on the east side of Albion.

Other planned upgrades were made during the scheduled maintenance, such as replacing a battery system and improving technology for our power supplier. However, with any construction project, there was also an additional, but not so welcome, surprise ­— cracks in one of the transmission meters.

If the crack wasn’t found and replaced, there would have been an outage within the next year, Dickmeyer explained. That’s why this maintenance work is done.

“Preventative maintenance helps us avoid potential outages by keeping everything in good condition and also helps shorten outages when they inevitably occur,” Dickmeyer said.