Electric Distribution System Reliability and Voltage Conversion Project

Reedsburg Utility Commission (RUC) has been working on a multi-year Electric Distribution System Reliability and Voltage Conversion Project.

Voltage Conversion:
RUC’s distribution system currently consists of two voltages (4,160 V and 12,470 V). When the conversion project is completed, our system will all be at 12,470 volts. A higher single distribution voltage will provide increased system reliability and capacity for the continued growth of the Reedsburg community.

Substation Relocation:
Our substation located along South Webb Avenue is susceptible to flooding due to its proximity to the river. During the 2008 and 2018 floods, the substation had to be removed from service. Customers that were normally served out of this substation were switched to other distribution lines from other substations. A blink (an outage of only a few seconds) or outage will impact more customers on these larger circuits. This substation is being replaced and relocated to higher ground next to the bike trail to raise it out of the floodplain. Once this new Webb Substation is completed it will also provide increased system reliability and capacity in the distribution system.

 

 

Outages and Blinks:
Power interruptions or “blinks” are most often caused by devices installed to protect the electrical system. These devices are called reclosers. Reclosers essentially act like the circuit breakers in your home, with one major difference – they reset themselves after breaking the circuit. The intent is that a tree touching the line or other obstruction will cause the recloser to open. The device will reset itself and power will once again flow down the line. If the problem has cleared the line, power will stay on. If the problem still exists, the recloser will operate again. After trying three times, most reclosers are designed to stay open until the obstruction is cleared and the device is manually re-set. The opening and closing of the recloser only lasts up to two seconds, causing the blink.

These power interruptions are normal system operations to protect the general public, our employees, and our system.

Squirrels cause a majority of the blinks and the incidents are most common in early summer through the fall. Every blink is investigated and additional wildlife protection is added whenever practical.

While these projects are being completed, some of the circuits that feed the north and west sides of Reedsburg are approximately 2.5 times larger than under normal operating conditions. These larger circuits are more susceptible to blinks and will affect more customers.

Infographic Source: American Public Power Association (APPA)

 

Our current project schedule is to have these projects completed late summer of 2021. Once completed, circuits will be smaller and customers will have less exposure to blinks. We appreciate your continued patience as we upgrade our electric distribution system. Please call 608-524-4381 to report any electric blinks or outages.