FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mar. 2, 2016
CONTACT: Randy Wilkerson, 720-962-7411, MediaRelations@wapa.gov
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Western Area Power Administration is proud to announce its receipt of the 2016 Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute. The award recognizes “industry leaders and innovators at the vanguard of adopting new technology and spearheading the application of research findings,” and “exemplify[ing] the initiative, collaboration, and leadership that transform research into results.”
Western received the award for the project “Categorize Line Transient Over-Voltage Values for Determining Minimum Approach Distances.” Western provided leadership for the project and partnered with EPRI and a number of other major utilities on the important safety-related project.
Western Administrator and CEO Mark Gabriel said, “Western is honored to receive this acknowledgement of the importance we place on safety throughout our organization and our industry. The most important thing we do is to work safely every day. This project allows our employees in the field to be confident that working conditions around our high-voltage lines are safe. It is an excellent example of how we can work both safely and efficiently without compromise.”
In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released new work rules for working around high-voltage lines. Included in those new rules was a change in the way the required minimum approach distance was calculated. Under the new rules a table of values was replaced with equations to calculate the minimum approach distance. A major factor in the new equations is transient over-voltage. OSHA also determined that without detailed engineering studies, utilities must use a default value that was higher than what had been used historically.
The study found that it was not necessary to conduct time-consuming, expensive studies for every line segment. Rather, the worst-case segment for each line could be studied and that value could be applied to the entire line. The study has significantly reduced the time and money required to comply with the new OSHA regulations while ensuring the safety of employees in the field.