How do we keep the lights on?

From initial system planning to installing the meter, here's the role engineers play as CoServ adds more than 1,000 meters a month

By Nicholas Sakelaris | CoServ

If you live in one of the new residential developments served by CoServ, you are a big reason why we are one of the fastest-growing electric cooperatives in the country.

We want to welcome you as a new CoServ Member and provide some insight into what goes on behind the scenes as we add an average of 1,300 meters to our system each month.

Long before the bulldozers start moving dirt for the neighborhood, CoServ’s System Planning Engineers run computer models that determine how much load the new homes will put on the existing system and if additional capacity is needed.

Using plans from the developer, they look at the average square footage, whether the homes have natural gas or are all electric, the total number of homes and other factors.

“The rate of expected load growth is run through every feeder in the engineering model and applied to the area in question,” said Dan Ruegger, CoServ’s Engineering Manager. “System Planning evaluates the system to ensure CoServ can meet its obligations and, if any shortcomings are found, the engineers prepare recommendations for solutions that will cost-effectively resolve the issue.”

This work is done years in advance to forecast potential power needs because it takes time to add more capacity, new power lines or a whole new substation.

Once construction begins, the next step is to get electric service to the new development and determine where the electric infrastructure will go. That job falls to a project manager like Richard Thorson, who takes that development plan out to the job site to mark easements where above ground or underground lines will go. The process is known as Stake Teching.  From here, one of CoServ’s many contractors will actually install the lines that will connect to the homes.

As the builders start framing the houses, a temporary meter is erected on a T-pole in front of the home to power tools and equipment on-site. When the house nears completion, the builder calls CoServ to alert us that it’s time to place the meter on the house permanently.

Alex Evans, CoServ’s Senior Field Service Coordinator, oversees the construction contractors who install electric meters. On one August morning, Alex met up with Joe Beck, a meter installer from Primoris, as he installed a meter on a new home on Berry Ridge Trail in the ArrowBrooke neighborhood in Aubrey.

Joe puts on rubber sleeves and gloves as he opens the transformer, which has more than 14,000 volts. His job is to remove the wiring associated with the temporary T-pole meter box and connect a new service line to the transformer. Then, he closes up the transformer and connects the other end of the service line to the home and installs the meter. This adds another meter to CoServ’s system.

It’s not uncommon for Joe to install 30 to 40 meters a day to keep up with the rapid growth in CoServ’s service territory.

It may seem like a simple process to build out lines and send electricity to a new meter, but many teams at CoServ work in tandem to plan, communicate, coordinate and execute plans that impact hundreds of thousands of people for generations. Lucky for us, they love what they do and are proud of the reliable system they are building for North Texas!


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