What’s hot and what’s not …

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

On a typical August afternoon in Oklahoma, it’s hard not to find a “hot spot” when the sun is beating down. However, a service the Grand River Dam Authority offers its electricity customers is helping to find a certain kind of hot spot that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Looking for hot spots …  GRDA Customer Support Services Superintendent Phil Stokes uses a handheld infrared camera to identify areas of an electric substation where loose connections might be causing overheating, leading to potential problems. The infrared imaging can help GRDA and its customers to better plan preventive maintenance projects, reduce unnecessary energy loss and prevent equipment failures

Looking for hot spots … GRDA Customer Support Services Superintendent Phil Stokes uses a handheld infrared camera to identify areas of an electric substation where loose connections might be causing overheating, leading to potential problems. The infrared imaging can help GRDA and its customers to better plan preventive maintenance projects, reduce unnecessary energy loss and prevent equipment failures

For several years now, GRDA has used a handheld FLIR (forward looking infrared camera) to see what the human eye simply cannot see: loose connections in electric substations that can cause breakers, transformers and other components to overheat. When the viewfinder is pinpointed on a certain location, the camera can display the temperature of that location. That technology makes it much easier to diagnose potential problems. GRDA also uses the infrared technology to inspect buildings to locate areas where heat and energy is being lost due to poor insulation or sealing.

“We can gather a wealth of information about the substations used to serve our customers by looking at them through this infrared camera,” said GRDA Customer Support Services Superintendent Phil Stokes. “That information is then shared with our crews or our customer crews and repairs can be made before problems occur.”

Of course, when those problems can be spotted early, the repair can be much simpler – and much less expensive – than those times when the problem makes itself known the hard way. In such instances, the result could be lengthy, complicated repairs, possibly coupled with an extended outage.

Whether that customer is an Oklahoma public power community, an Oklahoma electric cooperative or one of the industries in the MidAmerica Industrial Park, reliability and energy efficiency are vital to their operations. Infrared imaging allows GRDA to maintain that level of service while also fulfilling the opening lines of its mission statement: “To provide low-cost, reliable electric power and related services to our customers”

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity touches75 of 77 counties in the state, so the ability to see “what’s hot and what’s not” is important all across Oklahoma. At no cost to taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

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