Tucson Electric Power linemen have been trained to repair extra-high voltage lines without powering them down first using a “bare hand” method that reduces the need for service outages.
The method allows journeymen wearing special metal fiber suits to work on energized 345-kilovolt (kV) and 500-kV conductors. Customers will benefit from this new practice because crews no longer will have to turn off the electricity while they do repairs.
“The journeymen actually bond to the live wire with a metal wand and then have multiple points of bonding from the basket to the energized line,” said David White, Superintendent of TEP’s Transmission & Distribution department.
Journeymen who received training will have the option of using the new method to fix power lines as needed.
TEP Journeyman Aaron Roethle was the first to make his way onto the energized 500-kV lines on the Pinal Central to Tortolita project, where he practiced replacing a “V” string insulator.
“It was very high voltage,” he said. “You could feel the different electrical fields around you.”
TEP personnel have spent two years preparing to use the bare hand method.
“Moving in this direction is actually safer, as well as more efficient,” White said. “It’s easier for our journeymen to work directly on the repairs to the line that are needed.”