Sometimes it's hard to be humble here at Laser Technology. The gateway to safely, quickly, and accurately determine vegetation encroachment is in the modestly priced TruPulse 360 Laser Rangefinder-- and even fits into your vest pocket! When I hear stories like below, I can’t but help wonder why executives of T&D companies and Electricity suppliers aren’t better prepared.
According to Bloomberg, as of this writing (August 2013) the price of crude is a little over $109.00 a barrel and the commodity prices from western coal mines were at $39.75 per short ton (2,000 lbs). Of course this doesn’t factor in shipping & handling, administrative, and the peripheral costs of feeding the furnaces. The cost of generating electricity will always fluctuate and is the nature of the beast, leaving T & D companies at the mercy of spot pricing and often times events beyond their control. This places a premium on fixed and variable costs subject to competitive pricing.
T & D companies such as the Intermountain Rural Electric Association or IREA here in Colorado, are under pressure to conform to Federal guidelines and standards brought about by a number of significant blackouts affecting tens of millions of people! Most of us remember the massive power blackout in the Northeast, Midwest, and Eastern Canada in 2003. Ultimately it was determined that a single tree falling onto a power line caused the widespread outage. Shortly after the lights were turned back on, the Feds formulated mandatory standards that all T & D companies must adhere to.
NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) FAC-003-2 states:
To maintain a reliable electric transmission system by using a defense-in depth strategy to manage vegetation located on transmission rights of way (ROW) and minimize encroachments from vegetation located adjacent to the ROW, thus preventing the risk of those vegetation-related outages that could lead to Cascading.
Failure to demonstrate a viable process for compliance can result in a hefty fine ($2-3 million) or could be much more should vegetation encroachment take down a line in one’s territory shutting down the grid.
To acquiesce is not cheap.
In the August 2013 IREA Newsletter Director Tim White of District #4 announced the use of a helicopter-mounted LIDAR system to monitor power line right of ways. Given their 5,000 square mile territory, to go along with NERC will be a challenge. Without knowing whether this in an in-house operation or is contracted out would of course affect total costs, so I can only speculate. But either way both are costly solutions. I did a bit of research and here’s what I found:
To hire a pilot and helicopter can, depending on its size, range from $1,000 to $5,000 per hour! Standby times can run between $500 and $750 per hour! To cover 5,000 square miles…well…you can do the math. Once the survey is completed, the additional cost of sending vegetation management teams to clear the right of ways is added atop an already expensive process.
We at Laser Technology are highly confident that equipping each Vegetation management team with a TruPulse 360 will not only be less expensive, but more efficient as well. This hand-held unit specifically designed for field use would enable each team to safely measure critical distances instantly while mitigating the problem on the spot.
If you've not had the opportunity to put one in your vest pocket and test drive it, you're missing a solid opportunity to make the job far easier. Call or Email us to arrange for a practical demonstration.