Electric Distribution Superintendent
The City of Pratt’s Electrical distribution department maintains and operates over 50 miles of distribution lines providing electrical power to 4200 meters in a service area reaching 5 miles north and 8 miles east of the city limits .
The distribution department has 9 employees with a combined 56 years of experience (6.22 years average). The training program used is four categories; each consisting of nine sections that require a pass rate of 80% or better and demonstrates competency of the job knowledge of that section. Each category generally requires one year of study and on the job training. All employees are expected to complete the training program, and at completion the employee receives a journeyman lineman certificate. This journeyman certificate is highly sought-after by large independently owned utilities.
The job of a lineman is a time honored profession. A special type of person is required to go out in the worst of weather conditions to restore much needed power to the citizens. It is the feeling of commitment to the community that makes the job and the hard, dangerous working conditions worthwhile and rewarding. An example of the importance of the distribution linemen is the tornados and Ice storms of the past. The City of Pratt linemen worked 18 to 20 hour days for two weeks during the most recent storm of 2007.
The City of Pratt has been a member of the KMEA mutual aid program since its inception in 2002. Shortly after the program started the 2002 tornado tore through the western and southern parts of the city. Twelve crews from Mutual aid member cities descended on Pratt’s electrical system and despite the difficult conditions helped to put the lights back on to all of the Pratt electrical service area. Other storms have brought mutual aid crews to our city, including, the 2005 Ice storm. Mutual aid is recognized by FEMA as an emergency response group allowing for the time and material consumed to be reimbursed to the City of Pratt from the State and Federal governments.
Line Distribution has many job responsibilities such as maintaining metering accuracy for all of the electricity flowing to more than 4200 meters, installation and maintenance of traffic lights, street lights, rental lights, school crossing warning lights, fire sirens, Christmas decorations, underground electrical infrastructure of the decoration outlets in the parks, and also the new installation, maintenance and repair of the City of Pratt high and low voltage distribution system, and trimming of trees out of high voltage circuits and main secondary conductors.
Beginning in 2009 Line distribution will add a two man tree trimming crew utilizing existing equipment. This two man crew will rotate man power on a two week basis, in that way maintaining training levels and power line working skills. Even with the formation of this two man crew, distribution will still only trim trees out of main distribution feeders and main secondary feeders. Residents will still need to take responsibility for their own tree pruning and care, keeping in mind the problems that can be caused by the right tree planted in the wrong place.
Major improvements have been taking place in 2007 and the first half of 2008. Efficiency programs have been put in place to ensure that all of the power that is purchased by the production department is available to be provided to the cities customers. Metering losses are being studied and plans to eliminate these losses in metering are in process. This loss reduction will help to reduce the amount of money spent on power to as close as possible the amount returned by the cities customer base. Another loss recovery program project has been the installation of capacitor banks in some of the distribution circuits and at the substation areas. These capacitor banks will correct the hidden load component (created by any electric motor) of the energy delivered to the cities customers. With this correction, energy purchased from the transmission grid can be delivered to the city distribution system with as much as a 3% gain in quality (Power Factor) during the summer months when electric motor load (residential and commercial air conditioning) is the highest.
Improvement in the reliability area of electrical distribution is taking place in 2008 and will continue to develop for the next few years. An underground project has been completed along the west side of Sixth Street Park. This needed upgrade of the distribution system will go a long way to ensure better reliability of the circuits feeding the hospital, Law enforcement center, Post office, Court house and other commercial and residential customers in the central and eastern central part of the City of Pratt. An upgrade of underground feeder risers at the power plant will replace ageing poles and underground cable.
Protective relay upgrades in the west substation and 2.5 mile, 115KVolt transmission line will help ensure the consistency of the cities power reliability in the areas of storm surge protection and production generation protection from transmission line switch recloser (on Southern Pioneers Transmission system) as required by the distributed generation interconnect section of the Southern Pioneer/Pratt interconnection agreement.
In all of the activities of the line distribution crew, keeping the cost down, safety and reliability of the City Of Pratt’s electrical supply system are the number one priorities.
To learn about the production of electrical power in the City of Pratt, please click here.