IURPA News - Revenue losses go beyond theft of energy

Every manager faces the challenge of operating efficiently with fewer resources. This means he/she will need to reach out to other support mechanisms. In metering and revenue protection we can expand the practice of protecting ‘our’ equipment by enlisting the support of manufacturers and vendors who provide our metering products.

Switchgear shipping supports are a case in point. Each switchgear manufacturer addresses the need to support its buss works in a different way. Some have self-supporting buss works which do not require additional supports. Others use 1"x11" steel shipping supports bolted onto the buss works behind the area where the metering CTs will be installed, or supports made of GE ‘Lexan’ – so large and obtrusive that they must be removed to install the CTs. Our field personnel encounter these conditions every day.

But the major issue is conduction. When conductive supports are overlooked at the time of CT installation, they create a current flow-path that bypasses the instrument transformers, resulting in under-registration. Such a result may not be intentional, but suppliers and local distribution companies still sustain losses as a result, while the customer is unjustly enriched.

Correction becomes even more difficult when a customer cannot sustain an outage. Check-metering the bypassing supports amounts to an unacceptable band-aid. The CTs are often installed by electricians and wired by utility meter workers, and distribution company personnel check the work and sign-off on the installation’s integrity.

This means that when a bypass condition is overlooked, there is ample blame to pass around. And when the customer is served by a competitive supplier, there will be ample liability to pass around! Prevention is the only answer.

We propose shipping supports made of non-conductive materials such as fibreglass or ‘Lexan,’ in place of steel. Non-conductive supports preclude the possibility of a bypass condition, even if they are overlooked at installation, and the impact on cost is minor.

We appeal to IURPA to be heard on this matter. Utilities can review their sources of switchgear, and let manufacturers and vendors know if there are shipping support problems. The prospect of exclusion from an accepted products list should motivate them to respond. We fail to understand why any utility would accept the risk of these conductive shipping supports when an acceptable alternative can be designed at very little cost.