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Old 11-05-2019, 10:36 PM   #1
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Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


I have a private, 1.5 mile power line powering a house and a well in California in a high fire risk area. We maintain the line carefully and prune trees around it regularly. But! High winds can happen, and I really don't want to burn down the county. (Yes, the power line is owned by us, not the power company. They do own a meter at the end of the line.)

I'd like to set up an automatic system that can shut off the entire line on demand. I'm a software engineer and can set up the conditions for shutting it off easily (wind speed, weather forecast, SMS, etc.).

What's the best way (that meets code) to shut off a high voltage line on demand? I'll happily pay an electrician to do the work, just need to know what to ask them to install.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:13 AM   #2
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


What sort of high voltage are we talking about ?
what voltage please and what currents ?
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:07 AM   #3
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


If this is medium voltage this is gonna be an exspensive project to automate.

Why not get a manual cut out switch installed?

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Old 11-06-2019, 06:29 AM   #4
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


standard manual cut-out switch + permanent rod assembly, and add a system to pull the rod by motor, don't know if it would be accepted
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:40 AM   #5
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


There are six insulator discs, so I would guess that it's 69kV?

@carmusic 's suggestion is the best I've come up with so far.

A motor on a mechanical cut-off is certainly something I could build. I was hoping that there was something off-the-shelf. It's a significant detour of a drive to the start of the line (there isn't a road along the power line), so it would be worth the effort.

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Old 11-06-2019, 10:47 AM   #6
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


PG&E power lines responsible for at least 18 fires over the past 18 months were not properly maintained. It was not the wind but the lack of maintenance over the years as the executives took the money and distributed it as dividends to fat cat shareholders. This is nothing new for this company which has a very long history of not properly maintaining its gas and electric transmission lines.

I would put the money into having the line connections physically examined and any suspect parts replaced.

A physical cut-off is the safest way to cut power to the line as any electronic device can fail and provide a false sense of security. This is in part what happend with the Kincaid fire where PG&E shut power off to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses but not to the high voltage power transmission lines and it was a failed jumper on one of these energized lines that started the fire.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:10 AM   #7
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


I totally agree, Calson—maintaining these lines properly is important.

A few ideas that I have:
* Fire-rated dropout fuses that don't spark when they trip
* A grid sectionalizer, something like AutoLink
* A remotely operated recloser. Nojapower's system is more complex than I need, but looks like it would get the job done.

The extreme option is to convert it to underground, but the line is in very good shape and that seems like a shame to throw away the investment. Of course, the cost of the above ideas will factor into that decision.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:19 AM   #8
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


You should talk to your POCO about the installation, and ask them for a price to do it. (BTW, is the POCO SCE ?)

You can also get a few quotes from companies that do line work. They use linemen, not "electricians". It's a crew, not an individual.

This is one example of the type of switch and operator you need.
https://www.sandc.com/en/products--s...-distribution/

While taking to the POCO, verify the voltage with them. Or take a pic of the cross arms/insulators on a different pole. There are 6 bell deadend insulators rated for use at 12-69kv. It's not uncommon for a POCO to stock/use them rather than carrying 3 different insulators for specific voltages within that range.

The dead-end pole in your pic appears to be built to your POCO standards. It's not a built by owner cheaper install. Assuming the rest of the line meets the utility standards, I'd keep it that way.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


this is probably 7.2kv or 13.2kv max, those are standard transformer
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:28 AM   #10
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


We're in PG&E territory. They are highly motivated to install equipment to reduce fire risk right now! I will definitely be talking to them.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:40 AM   #11
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


Quote:
It was not the wind but the lack of maintenance over the years as the executives took the money and distributed it as dividends to fat cat shareholders.
That's Governor Newsom's line. That doesn't make it fact.

Sure you can find portions of the system that haven't had a lot of maintenance. Plenty of old neighborhoods and rural lines. PG&E would be foolish to say that 100% of their is modern and well maintained.

As far as fat cat share holders, it just a good sound bite. In 2016 (before the fires big disaster fires) PG&E was paying 3.5% dividend. That's not fat cat, it was more a widows and orphans stock.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:00 PM   #12
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


High Voltage lineman are a specialized group and even PG&E contracts out all the work on their very high voltage transmission lines.

The last big project by PG&E to run a new 230 kV high voltage transmission line from the Moss Landing power plant into San Jose was done by Henkels & McCoy. Siemens also has the expertise for such a project.

With the high voltage transmission lines there is a lot more mass and surface area and so more chance of an end connection failing. Part of the Henkels & McCoy work on the lines from Moss Landing power plant entailed fitting on large wheels with special springs to support the lines at each tower and allow for the wires to shrink and expand with temperature and minimize stress on the connections. But that was an exception and PG&E has done next to nothing to maintain the power lines in use in California preferring to bleed as much cash out for the executives and the shareholders, which is quite common these days with U.S. businesses.
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:20 PM   #13
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


Quote:
even PG&E contracts out all the work on their very high voltage transmission lines.
What is your source of that statement?

PG&E has always maintained a line department that does all types of T&D work up thru 500kv. They even a tower group that specializes in lattice steel tower fabrication and construction. The groups are sized to be an as stable as possible work force year round. You want to keep your good employees working. Excessive hiring/layoffs are not good for morale.

Excess workload has been contracted out for many years. New projects with a high manpower requirements are an easy hand off item to contractors.

Yes, there are specialties like setting towers by helicopter where the rigging and flying of the tower or tower section is always contracted, as is helicopter washing of insulators. Crane work above X feet in height/reach is also contracted.

But to say all “very high voltage work” is contracted is false.

(BTW, What do you mean by “very” high voltage? I understand high voltage(HV) extra high voltage(EHV), ultra high voltage(UHV) But there is no “very” in that series)
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:21 PM   #14
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


POCO do use such devices,
So they must be out there
But your average big box store will not have them
You will have to contact an electrical supply house,
They will have the contacts




https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=...SZ0DhIQ4dUDCAU
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:54 PM   #15
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Re: Weather-responsive High Voltage Remote Shutoff


The circuit interrupter linked by Oso is what I think you are looking for. Our utility just installed an RF-controlled one on the lines behind our house. It looked like a fair bit of work for a complete crew and I would think a job for a line contractor rather than an electrician (I don't know if electricians would be trained or insured to work up poles). They added two guylines to the pole - I don't know if that is structurally required or just SOP for our utility. As far as I know, an auto-recloser is essentially a over-current circuit breaker with a programmed reset protocol - I don't know if it something where you can control the disconnect.
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