Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) is in the process of replacing switches on its 46 kV power lines in the Olathe, Hotchkiss and Paonia areas. Switches in these areas have reached the end of their useful life and are now in need of replacement.
"These switches are 40-plus years old. We have had issues operating them and have even scavenged parts to repair them. Also, one of the switches has consistently shown a hot spot during our infrared inspections. It all comes down to safety and reliability. The new switches are more advanced and improve the safety of our field employees while improving reliability for our members," said VP of engineering Kent Davenport.
Switches are an important part of DMEA's power delivery system. They control the actual route of electricity along the power lines. By opening and closing switches, DMEA's system operators can change how specific areas are fed.
"The most obvious way switches improve operations is during line and substation maintenance situations. Also, there have been times these switches are used to reroute power during outages. We literally switch how power gets to a community, hopefully without anyone even knowing about it. Meanwhile, crews are able to address the maintenance or outage. Then, we switch members back to their normal feed," explained Davenport.