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Underground Distribution Systems: Construction, Design, Layout and Maintenance

Event Description and Agenda:

New distribution projects are being proposed, planned, and built all over the U.S. and Canada. The need for a water crossing, the desire to preserve open space and other aesthetic issues, and dealing with constrained right of way has meant that utilities must consider installing underground distribution. At the same time advanced cable technologies are being developed, installation techniques have expanded in terms of options and efficiency while cost factors have improved.

Going underground with distribution has traditionally been a last resort because the cost of underground distribution is many times the cost of overhead distribution, and maintenance and repair has proved costly and difficult. In some cases, going underground is necessary in order to bring a project to completion, based on public pressure or constrained space. In addition, in more instances, underground or submarine distribution is the first choice for longer distances.

Conference attendees will hear from experienced professionals on the following:

  • Reasons for taking distribution underground while considering costs and risks
  • Installation techniques
  • Underground/submarine cable systems
  • Maintenance, testing, and repair for cable systems

Thursday, February 19, 2015

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 - 8:45 a.m. :: Introduction

8:45 - 10:00 a.m. :: Underground System Advantages - The Advantages of "Underground Ducted Systems"

  • Advantages of underground ducted systems in an urban environment
    • Unique design techniques in the city of Philadelphia
    • Convenience of distributing power to residences as well as businesses
  • Maintenance
    • Latest technology ( Vacuum Fault Indicators or VFIs) to replace older underground switches and equipment
    • Maintenance schedules and practices to optimize service and reduce wear and tear on equipment and devices

Keith Henderson, Aerial/Underground Lines Supervisor, PECO Energy, Philadelphia, PA

10:00 - 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: How Do Cable Systems Fail? Historical Myths and the Science behind the New Life Cycle Paradigm

This presentation showcases the evolution of cable failure knowledge from the 1970s through today. Understanding of cable failure mechanisms is key to selecting an effective approach to life cycle management. This presentation defines the real issue and a new paradigm on addressing cable failures with a focus on the time delay between defect introduction and failure.

Ben Lanz, Manager, Applications Engineering, IMCORP

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Underground Cable Testing and Diagnostics

To ensure reliable and long underground cable service life, testing and diagnostics must begin at the manufactures' plant and continue throughout cable system service life. This session covers testing before shipping from the plant and after installation according to international standards and guides. In addition, recognized diagnostics are discussed to ensure continued and reliable operation or alternatively timely component replacement can be recommended before catastrophic failure occurs.

Harry Orton, Orton Consulting Engineers International Ltd.

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:00 - 2:15 p.m. :: Underground Cable Temperature Monitoring in the Real World

This presentation shows the steps that can be taken to identify, mitigate and validate a duct bank design. There are many thermal factors in operating underground cables that can significantly affect the rating of the cable, including overcrowding of getaway duct banks and soil conditions. These ratings are often applied throughout a service territory. The use of a distributed temperature sensing system and a duct bank modeling software such as Cymcap can be used to validate the effectiveness of soil mitigation and obtain ratings that are closer to the real world dynamic ratings of the cable.

Jason Fosse, Senior Engineer, Southern California Edison

2:15 - 3:00 p.m. :: Wisconsin Public Service Corporation's - Improving Electric Distribution Reliability in its Forested Service Territory

Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) will improve electric distribution system reliability over a five-year period starting in 2014 by annually addressing 200 to 300 miles of its overhead electric distribution system. To improve reliability, WPSC will replace sections of existing overhead primary voltage electric distribution facilities with underground facilities, install distribution automation equipment, or both. When complete, WPSC estimates that the proposed project will reduce its annual total company System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) by 20 to 25 percent.

Phil Montgomery, Chairperson, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. :: Underground Cable Installation and Conduit System Design

  • Using pulling theory to optimize cable installation. Direction of pull, eliminating splicing, better set up points
  • Coefficient of friction determination and how friction affects cable installation tension and sidewall pressure
  • Use of field data from previously pulled cable to more accurately calculate ending tension on future pulls
  • Cable lubricant performance differences - does it really matter?
  • Cable lubrication application techniques and procedures

Tom Fredericks VP/GM Electrical Division, American Polywater Corporation

4:30 - 4:45 p.m. :: Q&A

5:00 - 6:00 p.m. :: Reception - Sponsored by Underground Devices


Friday, February 20, 2015

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. :: Easements and Other Land Rights for Underground Distribution Systems - Strategies for Success in Today's Environment

The Right of Way field, like so many within our industry, faces increasing internal and external pressures in the modern world. Projects are expected to be completed more quickly with tighter budgets and customer expectations for reliability and service quality are constantly rising. At the same time, property owners are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of land use and property rights, making the acquisition of new easements (and even the use of existing rights) more complex. This presentation will discuss some of these challenges and offer tools to keep the acquisition, interpretation and management of land rights on track.

Ira McDaniel, SR/WA, Supervisor Real Estate - Puget Sound Energy

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. :: Using Substation and Customer Voltage to Reduce Electrical Losses, Improve Distributed Generation/Storage Compatibility and Map the Underground Distribution Circuit

This presentation will address how to combine the capability of voltage measurement from standard AMI systems with the control of LTC transformer, regulators, capacitor banks and active secondary voltage control to produce energy efficiency improvements of 3-4 % and peak load reductions of 3-5 % while making the underground distribution networks compatible with distributed resources and improving customer equipment performance and reliability. In addition to the hard savings the presentation will also cover the improvements in customer reliability and service as well as significantly increasing the allowable circuit's capacity to handle increasing levels for distributed generation/storage such as customer owned PV enabling distribution transactive energy markets.

Phil Powell, Director, Grid Innovations, Dominion - Alternate Energy Services

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:30 - 11:45 a.m. :: Utility Case Study: Con Edison

  • Con Edison electric distribution system
  • The world's largest underground electric system
  • Underground smart switches: Risk reduction for distribution network

Tom Campbell, Sr. Engineer Distribution Engineering, Con Edison

11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Q/A and Conference Conclusion

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