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Mitigating Electrical Issues of Aging Infrastructures

by Thomas Raveney, PE, Electrical Design Director

It is hard to believe that clean (distortion free) reliable power is still not available throughout all parts of the country. Due to neglected electrical network infrastructures and consumer utilization equipment, remote and urban locations often experience reliability and efficiency issues. Constant cycling of utility circuits, unpredictable consumer usage, electrical surges including lightning, well-aged utilization equipment, the increasing presence of harmonic interference and even car accidents damaging network infrastructure all play roles in degrading network performance.

Developing solutions to these unpredictable problems can be challenging, especially for the issues that occur on utility infrastructure; but, when we can exercise prevention, proper maintenance, and modern infrastructure, we are certainly able to increase reliability and efficiency.

Design strategies include:

  • Main service and internal distribution surge protection devices designed to cover a tiered range of faults/surges based on selectively coordinated equipment
  • Provide internal metering/monitoring systems to alert when electrical events happen so that they can be tracked and maintenance can be planned in lieu of reacted to
  • Passive removal of Harmonics by designing with Harmonic Mitigating Transformers
  • UL, or equal, Master certified lightning protection systems
  • Improved grounding network, including post-construction ground resistance testing
  • On-site power generation can always be considered if power quality issues arise. On-site generation can take over when utility power quality dips below pre-determined or adjustable tolerance levels

DBR can employ a multi-tiered design that aims to prevent damage to public and private infrastructure, provide minimal electrical distortion to the network and effectively suppress or redirect surges and spikes in the electricity we use. These strategies ultimately increase the life span of equipment, result in fewer internal failures and result in more reliable and efficient use of power.

Power Surge Demonstrated on Electrical Service Waveform
Thomas Raveney
Electrical Design Director, Senior Associate