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Electrical Equipment Is Never In Season

As various North Dakota hunting seasons approach, please remember that electrical insulators, conductors and electrical equipment are NOT on the hunting season list. Nodak Electric Cooperative encourages hunters to be aware of electrical equipment while enjoying the great outdoors this season.

Hunters and other gun owners should not shoot near or toward power lines, power poles and substations. A stray bullet can cause damage to equipment, could be deadly to the shooter, and potentially interrupt electric service to large areas.

Be aware of what’s behind that big buck or it might cost big bucks. Repairs can be costly and damages cause outages to our members. As a nonprofit cooperative, owned by the members, we all share in this expense.

We recognize the majority of hunters practice safe hunting and understand the potential risks when discharging a firearm. We encourage experienced hunters who are familiar with the area to identify the locations of utility properties and equipment to young or new hunters in their group and remind them to avoid shooting toward these facilities. Enjoy the great outdoors safely.

Hunting Safety Tips

  • Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of power lines and equipment on land where you shoot.
  • Damage to the conductor can happen, possibly dropping a phase on the ground. If it’s dry and the electricity goes to ground, there is the possibility of electrocution and fire.
  • Be especially careful in wooded areas where power lines may not be as visible.
  • Do not use power line wood poles or towers to support equipment used in your shooting activity.
  • Take notice of warning signs and keep clear of electrical equipment.
  • Do not place deer stands on utility poles or climb poles. Energized lines and equipment on the poles can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them, causing shock or electrocution.
  • Do not shoot at or near birds perching on utility lines. That goes for any type of firearm, including pistols, rifles or shotguns.
  • Do not place decoys on power lines or other utility equipment. Anything attached to a pole besides utility equipment can pose an obstruction – and a serious hazard – to electric cooperative employees as they perform utility operations.
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Brownouts vs. Blinking Lights

You’re at home and suddenly the lights get really bright in part of the house while dimming in another. Or your lights and appliances work in one part of your home but not in other areas. What’s going on? Those could be symptoms of “brownouts,” also called partial power or low voltage. But don’t confuse partial power with blinking lights.

Brownouts or partial power

Partial power at a home is usually caused by a problem with neutral or ground connections. This could be a bad connection at the transformer, a bad connection to the pole ground, a bad connection to the primary neutral conductor, a bad connection in the meter base, a secondary conductor that is failing, or problems within the home at the breaker panel or individual circuits.

Signs of partial power include dim lights or appliances that work in some parts of the home but not in others, and some lights getting really bright while others dim.

For a large number of members, partial power could be caused by a transmission problem or a voltage regulator not working properly. It also occurs when one phase of the transmission three-phase is not energizing a substation transformer. If that happens, two of our distribution phases will have low voltage and therefore cause low voltage within the home.

What should you do?

If you experience partial power, you should turn off your main breaker and call Nodak or an electrician. If the partial power is affecting everything in your home, call Nodak Electric so we can advise you on whether the source of the problem is ours or if it’s on your side of the meter.

Blinking lights

Blinking lights is a complete, momentary power outage – perhaps just for a few seconds. Sometimes, the lights may completely blink off just once, and then everything is fine again. Or the lights may blink on and off a few times followed by a complete power outage. Blinking lights occurs when there is a fault on our electric system, such as a tree or branch in contact with a power line. If this happens, it’s a sign that our electric system is working as designed. If you have questions regarding partial power or blinking lights, please contact Nodak Electric at 1-800-732-4373.

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Smart Grid Technology To Improve Reliability, Benefit Nodak Members

In its nearly 70 years of operation, the Cooperstown substation has powered it all.

The facility helped bring electricity out to farms and ranches in the early 1950s. It energized the development of Minuteman Missile sites during the Cold War. And it stayed stride for stride with our demand for energy in a digital world.

This fall, the substation is set for a well-earned retirement. The aging equipment will be replaced with a new, modern substation to meet the area’s long-term energy needs.

Substations, those collections of wires and transformers you see behind chain-link fences, raise the voltage of electricity at a power generation facility for efficient transmission over long distances, then lower it so it can be safely used in homes and businesses. Nodak receives power at the substation from Minnkota Power Cooperative, its wholesale power provider, and then brings it out to its member-consumers.

“The existing Cooperstown substation was basically at its maximum capacity,” said Jay Bushy, Minnkota’s lead engineer on the project. “If Nodak would have had additional load out there, we wouldn’t have been able to provide for it without expanding the substation.”

Once the new substation is energized later this year, the existing substation will be decommissioned, the equipment will be removed and the site restored to its original condition with grass planted. The entire project is estimated to cost $900,000.

Minnkota operates and maintains more than 250 substations on behalf of Nodak and 10 other electric cooperatives in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Initiating the rebuild of an existing substation or replacing equipment goes through a meticulous review process where age, location, system demand and many other factors are considered. A construction work plan is developed on an annual basis and approved by a board consisting of representatives from the 11 Minnkota member cooperatives.

Real-time data

The new Cooperstown substation provides significant benefits in terms of communication and reliability, Bushy said. An upgraded computer system, known in the industry as SCADA, will help gather and analyze data, while also monitoring and controlling equipment processes remotely. It is part of a long-term upgrade project to add smart grid technology at the older substation sites. All new substations have the technology in place.

“We’ll be better able to isolate outages and switch lines on and off,” Bushy said. “That’s a benefit to Nodak and its members.”

Smart grid technology has been added this summer at the Robbin substation (near Drayton), Depuy substation (near Grafton) and Adams substation (west of Park River) in Nodak’s service area. The goal of these projects is to replace the meters and regulator panels with state-of-the-art technology that will provide real-time communication back to Minnkota’s Energy Control Center.

By receiving real-time data from the substations, personnel can more quickly respond to outages and other power quality issues.

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Nodak Electric Cooperative

Nodak Electric Cooperative is dedicated to being an efficient provider of quality electric service with leadership that demonstrates the highest regard for its members/owners.

To report an outage call
800-732-4373 or 701-746-4461

Sept/Oct 2018

The Official Publication of Nodak Electric Cooperative

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