Cheyenne maintenance crew tries out new insulator testing equipment

Tri-State’s east-side line personnel conducted field exercises with new insulator diagnostic equipment on LRS-Story line.

Some transmission personnel from Tri-State’s Cheyenne maintenance facility were on site this week on the 345-kilovolt Laramie River Station to Story Substation right-of-way northeast of Cheyenne to conduct field exercises on insulator testing devices provided by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Positron Inc., based in Canada.

Tri-State is a member of EPRI, which is a research and development organization in support of advancing new technologies in the electric utility industry. As such, the association was the recipient of one of the institute’s new insulator testing devices with the capability of testing the operating performance of polymer insulator strings when they are either in or out of service.

Most of the available insulator testing equipment in use is only designed to test porcelain or glass-based insulators. Tri-State uses both polymer and porcelain insulators on its transmission system; however, many new transmission lines are designed for polymer insulator applications, according to Linwood Blacksmith, east-side line superintendent.

“Also, we’re finding that some of the insulators that are being shipped to us from foreign countries are of inferior quality and may require testing before they are placed in service, which makes the EPRI tester useful to us,” said Tyson Lies, Wyoming line foreman.

Tri-State linemen Travis Berg and Dustin Thompson test an insulator string on the LRS-Story line.

Another company, Positron, was also on site this week to offer its line insulator testing products to the line crew members in Cheyenne. After a briefing and electronics set-up session at the field office, Lies and his crew proceeded to the energized LRS-Story line to conduct some real-world testing of the Positron equipment.

Testing insulators on each line phase on the tower required both an aerial platform truck and crew members to climb the tower to access the insulators on the center line phase. The Positron insulator testing device is attached to the end of a “hot stick” (a special fiberglass pole for working on energized lines) and a device known as a sled is moved across the insulator bells to calculate the electrical field, which helps line personnel determine the integrity of the insulator strings.

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