Reliability & Integrity team troubleshoots, resolves power quality issues

Story by NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

Mickey Vassey goes over voltage calculations while standing in the shadow of Highland Village’s water tower.

The city is installing new variable control drives for the pumps that force drinking water upward into the elevated storage tank off Village Parkway. As part of the project, the city needs the voltage and amperage adjusted.

This is where Mickey, CoServ’s Power Quality Technician, and his Reliability and Integrity (R&I) team come in. Whether they’re providing reliable electricity to critical water infrastructure in Highland Village or investigating why the lights flicker at a home in Prosper, the R&I Team provides an important, and often overlooked, service to CoServ Members.

“We resolve every single one of them,” Mickey said. “Sometimes we find that the problem is on their end, but we at least help them figure out where the problem is.”

Mickey has worked at CoServ since 1984 and got his start in the electric utility business in 1978. He’s a founding member of the R&I Team, which began in the 1990s, working on commercial and industrial accounts.

Eventually, they expanded the department to include residential power quality investigations.

HIGH VOLTAGE IN HIGHLAND VILLAGE

On an unseasonably cool morning in Highland Village this summer, Mickey instructs a team of linemen to temporarily de-energize the transformer at the water tower, which they do by safely pulling the power supply cables out with a hot stick.

Then, they adjust the voltage from 476 volts up to 488, increasing the current from 23 to 28.5 amps. Using a hot stick, the linemen safely reconnect the circuits to the transformer, re-energizing it.

Mickey places a recorder device on the transformer to keep a log of the voltage under different load levels. After analyzing the recorder, Mickey gave Highland Village the go-ahead to run the water pumps at full power, knowing they had the correct voltage and amperage to run the pumps.

CoServ’s R&I Team is another way CoServ sets itself apart from other utilities in North Texas. Few utilities have such a team, and communities served by CoServ appreciate the extra lengths we go to solve power quality issues.

“We need the right voltage, we need the right frequency. We need it to be reliable, especially in a storm,” said Justin Praesel, Utility Superintendent for Highland Village.

INSTALLING A NEW TRANSFORMER IN PROSPER

In early July, the R&I Team responded to a power quality call at a brand-new, 8,000-square-foot house in Prosper. The Member said the lights would flicker when the washing machine was on a spin cycle or when one of the four air conditioning units kicked on.

Mickey placed a recorder on the electric meter that showed the home wasn’t receiving proper voltage at peak load. The transformers on the street were spaced too far apart, especially considering the size of the new home. The solution? A new transformer was needed in the front yard.

CoServ Linemen crews spent two days installing the transformer, including replacing the underground power lines with higher voltage lines along the road. The power lines that run to the meter of that home and the neighboring home were also replaced. For one of the homes, CoServ used a portable electric generator to keep an aquarium running while the power was off.

A week later, Mickey checked the recorder and found the homes were receiving consistent, quality voltage and – no surprise – the flickering problem had stopped.

Flickering lights have become more of a problem in recent years with the popularity of LED lighting.

“People are surprised that the LED lights are so sensitive,” Mickey said. “The smallest fluctuation in voltage can be seen.”

KEEPING HORSES COOL IN PILOT POINT

The R&I team recently did an investigation at the Dragon Manor Ranch in Pilot Point where they had several fan motors burning out in the horse stalls. It’s a serious problem because horses could overheat, get dehydrated or drink themselves sick in the Texas summer.

Ranch owner and CoServ Member Cody Caliendo initially called an electrician to see if power fluctuations were to blame. The electrician suggested that Cody call CoServ’s R&I Team.

“It was awesome, because I didn’t know this was a type of service that you could call a power company about,” Cody said. Mickey “made sure I read the readings when it was just standard and when it was being used. It was a good experience.”

Mickey discovered the problem wasn’t on CoServ’s end, but he still helped troubleshoot the problem so Cody could get the proper repair.

“One way or the other, we’re going to provide you with a solution,” said Mickey. “The bottom line is we’re here to serve.”

HOW TO CONTACT US

Think you might be experiencing power quality issues? Email us at contact@coserv.com.

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