August 29, 2014

Five-Year Re-Clearing Program Improves Reliability

Back in 2008, Wolverine Power Cooperative reduced its seven-year right-of-way re-clearing cycle to five years to follow guidelines set by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Monitoring 211,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines that serve 334 million people, NERC ensures the reliability of the bulk power system in the continental United States and Canada.

“By the fall of this year, we will have re-cleared our entire 1,600-mile transmission system over a five-year period,” explains Joe Hughes, land management supervisor. “We covered more than 300 miles per year under the new, shorter cycle compared to just over 200 miles annually under our previous seven-year cycle.”

Wolverine employees and contracted crews monitor the health of vegetation on the rights-of-way and remove hazardous and overgrown trees and shrubs. Vegetation hindering the rights-of-way are cut, trimmed or mowed, and herbicides are hand-applied on recently re-cleared lines to control tree regrowth.

Overhanging tree canopies on the edges of right-of-way corridors scheduled to be rebuilt are also removed. This process, called side tree-trimming, increases the horizontal tree clearance to the new wires.

“On some sections of our rights-of-way, a tree located outside the cleared corridor may have a crown only 15 feet from the wires,” Hughes explains. “We trim horizontally to prevent tree limbs from contacting our lines during high winds or in heavy snow conditions.”

The goals of Wolverine’s right-of-way re-clearing program are to prevent power outages, provide access for lineworkers if the power is out, and keep the rights-of-way safe for the co-op and neighboring landowners.

“Our commitment to maintaining our rights-of-way keeps the lights on for our members,” Hughes says. “Reliability is a top priority.”

Wolverine’s transmission system delivers electricity to its distribution member cooperatives, including: Cherryland Electric, Great Lakes Energy, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. Midwest Energy, Wolverine’s fifth distribution member cooperative, owns and maintains a distribution system separate from Wolverine’s transmission lines.

New Records Set by Wolverine Members
The distribution member cooperatives of Wolverine Power Cooperative together set a new peak energy demand record in mid-July. Cherryland Electric, Great Lakes Energy, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, Midwest Energy and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op reached a new record of 661 megawatts on July 17, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The co-ops’ previous peak record of 658 megawatts was set last year in early July.

In addition, the five co-ops set a new energy sales record of 13,321 megawatt hours for the 24-hour period beginning at 1 a.m. on July 16. The previous 24-hour energy sales record of 13,220 megawatt hours was set in July 2012.

“These milestones reflect the continued growth of our members,” says Tim Martin, manager of energy operations for Wolverine. “Our job is to meet our members’ growing demand with reliable power supply at a competitive price.”

- Nancy Tanner